A sign that 2002 is starting out to be a great year: I was looking for rental cars in France (more about that to come), and I found the site for Voditi, a specialty car rental company near Paris. Through their partnership with Europcar, their cars are available at other major French destinations as well. So what? They rent Citroen 2CV’s, the world’s greatest car. Here is a link to a usenet discussion thread in 1996, which was a fruitless search for 2CV’s for rent. Ahh, I remember it well. (PS I finally bought my 2CV in 1996 on Minitel.)
So we have bought one car on ebaymotors, which I wrote about before. This morning, I surfed across the ad below while looking for our next vehicle, a Ford F-150 truck. My grandparents have gotten a new Ford truck every year or two for as long as I’ve been alive, and probably longer. We used my grandmother’s truck during our first location in August.
FOR SALE: 2000 Harley F-150
Sweet Truck, moving to dirt road, must sell. Asking payoff around $25,000 call or e-mail for current price. 22k miles, in storage.
It’s located in Michigan. Tempting, but unfortunately, even though the 2000 Harley edition has the desirable extended cab (vs. the 2001 Super cab, which is too big), the flareside short bed seems a bit too small, and–most importantly–it’s only 2wd. Did I mention I live on the upper east side?
Got back last night from a week in DC, sans video setup, in order to host an event at MoMA that turned out even better than I’d hoped.
The co-creators of Towers of Light, a proposal for an ephemeral memorial to the World Trade Center, discussed the project and its evolution. How it’s gone from independent, abstract ideas and visions springing from different needs and visions (restitution, ghost limbs, spatial composition and urban planning) to an emminently realizable, concrete and remarkably cohesive proposal.
The collaboration that has taken shape includes artists Julian Laverdiere and Paul Myoda; architects Gustavo Bonevardi and John Bennett; Creative Time; and the Municipal Arts Society. Given that I know all four instigators and have counted at least two of them as friends for years, I’m especially eager to see this powerful project happen. The Towers of Light link above has a place to share your comments and support (note: They don’t need money.)
Also, a photographer whose work I really admire, Philip-Lorca di Corcia, has had three shows, one in New York at PaceWildenstein [sorry, can’t find a good link], one in London at Gagosian, UK, and one in Paris at Galerie Almine Rech [flash prevents deep linking…], which was the first showing I know of of his highly influential (i.e., frequently copied) fashion photography work. Check it out.
Cold, drizzly Sunday afternoon=prime logging (and weblogging time). Here is some real-time video screening/logging before I run over to my in-laws’ apartment:
Tape 4: Closeups of my grandmother’s photographs. Jeff’s idea was to have her hold them rather than just to shoot them on their own, Ric Burns-style. Great images, nicely framed with her hands and sweater popping in from time to time. We can insert these cuts in her discussions of the various pics. One bummer: she’d tell some stories while we were shooting the photos, too (she was still miked up); some of these stories got cut off when Jeff’d stop taping a photo and request the next one. We weren’t aware enough of what we were getting, I guess.
Shooting along an irrigation ditch, the first one. It was concrete lined, so the water ran much more quickly. Jeff (the cameraman) was straddling the ditch. Several great shots, useful for voiceover, narrative breaks, whatever. Then he suddenly swears at the camera. He flips around, looking through the camera as the rubber eyepiece rushes downstream. “Sht, sht sht,” and then there’s me busting up laughing, knowing that this eyepiece, which never seemed to stay on anyway, wouldn’t be bothering us anymore. A slight, old guy with a straw hat and shaded clips on his glasses comes over to see what’s up. “That water comes out over to Center Street, if you want to go catch it,” he offers wryly.
First interior shots of one of the dry cleaners. A lot of tight, well-framed images of the various equipment stations, the clothes racks, etc. No people, really. (There were only two working at the time, and we’d made plans to go back the next morningto capture the hubbub.) Reminds me of shots from a smaller, less monumental Jane and Louise Wilson video.
A recently abused phrase: The terrorists have already won. Nearly 600 occurences on Google as I type, including at The Onion. I mention this at all because a neighbor and I were trying to figure out how The Daily Show had used it, and I just found the quote. From 18 October 2001.
“Let me get this staight, Jon.
Congress has been reduced to backing an 80’s novelty rap star (MC Hammer) on the steps of the Capitol?
The terrorists have already won, Jon.”
-Stephen Colbert, The Daily Show
Yikes. I feel like I either must or must not watch the documentary, Project Greenlight, which premiers on HBO tonight. It’s the “making of” story of a guy from Chicago who won an online script contest by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s production company, Live Planet; top prize waw a $1mm budget and a distribution deal from Miramax. The NY Times review hinted at a couple of interesting and not-unexpected points: 1) Ben Affleck’s observation on the possible heinousness of the final product (an anxiety I share about my own project), “If Pete’s works, it’s `Stand by Me.’ If it doesn’t, it’s the after- school special I did when I was 13.” and 2) Caryn James’ observation that “though no one says this on camera, one of Mr. Jones’s assets was that his personality plays better on television than the runner-up’s.” As it turns out, then, was like acing the SAT’s or winning the first Survivor; there is a system to be understood and played. Just sign up for the Princeton Review of film making…
[added 18 Feb 02: Looking for Madonna & Gursky? scroll down or click here.]
Just got this via email tonight:
Documentary Fortnight , a film and video festival at MoMA December 6-16. Most of the movies are in the “social documentary tradition,” meant to illuminate, motivate, and drive social change. Many relate in some way or another to September 11 and the aftermath, including a veritable A&E marathon weekend’s worth of Afghan- and Islam-related works. Hmm. Here are two films that look interesting to me:
The Fourth Dimension. 2001. USA/Japan. Directed by Trinh T. Minh-Ha. The Fourth Dimension is a multilayered work that utilizes visual metaphors to address its central themes: the experience of time, the impossibility of truly seeing, and the impact of video on image making.
Beneath the Veil 2000-01. United Kingdom. Directed by Saira Shah. British journalist Shah used a hidden camera to film the lives of ordinary Afghans under the Taliban. The result shows shocking footage of mass executions and insight into the oppression suffered by Afghan women. 49 min.
This second one reminds me of a docu I saw at Sundance in 1990 called H2 Worker, by Stephanie Black, which was also shot undercover (albeit in the sugar plantations of Florida, USA).
As this log grows, I hear it’s becoming tricky for new visitors to the site to get up to speed with the project; I hope the highlight links will be useful (they already seem to be getting some use). As it turns out, there are nearly as many entries about NOT working on the movie, about daily life, and, obviously, about dealing with the September 11 events and their effect on the city. These entries aren’t included in the highlights links, but they are integral to the site.
When I first conceived this documentary over two years ago, it was different in key aspects from what I intend it to be now. It’s a product of my mind, my family, and my surroundings now, which are all different than in 1998. And now is different than August. So for those of you who are new to this site, I’d recommend looking to the highlight links for the nuts and bolts of this documentary project, and to the rest of the site for the context that’s informing it.
On an unrelated, much lighter (and, given the “deep thought” seriousness of recent entries, much needed) note, I surfed out all the sites I regularly visit during the holidays. Rather than watch movies (see last post) over Thanksgiving, I checked in on some ancient sites that that were cool before the web itself was cool (i.e., in 1995-7).
Blair Magazine: Some of these guys used to work with some friends. Whaddya know, there’s a new edition, number 7, after almost a two-year hiatus.
Polyestuh, aka Pimpz.org: Unlike Blair, this site hardly seems to have changed at all since 1996. It even recommends you use Netscape 2.0, just to “stick it to the man.” Those were the days.
Netscape Browser Archive: So if you’re interested in getting Netscape 2.0, or any other release, for that matter, check here. It supports “Java,” after all…
At the beach in North Carolina, camped out with the family for Thanksgiving. I’ve taken to traveling with my DV camera, AV cables, and a pile of tapes to screen whenever I can get behind a TV. Unfortunately, it turns out none of our TV’s has a compatible input, so I’m reduced to screening in the view finder, with no audio. Less than ideal, but a nice escape from the movies the other car picked: Best of Show; Legally Blonde; O Brother, Where art thou, and Finding Forrester.
So the first tape I put in didn’t have a label, just a date. I started watching it, and I didn’t recognize anyone in it at all. There were little kids running around, talking to the camera, shots of the sky, the camera set in the grass, some “dog’s eye view” running across a lawn, but nothing that could be identify what kind of occasion it was. Where had I gotten this tape? The handwriting of the date seemed familiar (my brother? my father?), but not really. As I tried to imagine what in the world this (silent) tape was and how it fit into my life, all sorts of worst case scenarios began popping into my head. I forwarded trough the whole tape. Nothing prurient, at least as far as I could tell. But you never know. What were they saying? Was the cameraman talking to them? Those Steven Meisel ads for Calvin Klein came to mind.
As I re-viewed the tape, more slowly, looking for a visual clue of who shot it and what it was, I caught a glimpse of the cameraman as he placed the camera in the grass to shoot up into the sky. Frame advance, rewind, rewind, rewind. Freeze. The happy mug of my friend and cameraman in Utah was upsidedown in the top of the frame. Whew. Now it made sense. He’d borrowed my camera package for a weekend to shoot some stuff at a family reunion. These were his cousins. I remember talking about his idea for a piece at the time (he’s an MFA student.) and the British artist, Gillian Wearing. This 1997 article from the CS Monitor mentioned an exhibit of Wearing’s where she video’ed adults lip-syncing the confessions of teenagers. A quote: “The video’s overall effect is to provoke a disquieting sense of confessionalism and voyeurism – of the private being made public in an inappropriate way.” This idea, or more specifically, the trepidation of my project falling into just that trap, has been a topic here on greg.org before (see the archives). Anyway, turns out none of my family (and at least one of my friends) is in a pedophilic photo club. Something to be thankful for, indeed.
Even though I got back from London (and decided not to really post more about the art exhibition I went to see. focus.) almost two weeks ago, family and work and travel have largely kept me from my newly resolved screening schedule. Last week was characterized by an ultimately abandoned attempt to register our new car (purchased happily through ebaymotors) at the Virginia DMV, where the confusion, cognitive dissonance and abuse are running high, no doubt due to links to the September 11 hijackers. New York’s DMV proved to be reassuringly back to normal, requiring only an all-afternoon wait and the same sheaf of documents they always did. We comemmorated by ordering New York City plates, but with “Manhattan” instead of the “Bronx.” [note: Props to all Bronx readers. We just don’t live there.] NYC truly rules.
Screening and Logging: While a search on the web for “fierce vignetting” inexplicably came up empty, a similar search of my logging notes produces nearly 10,000 results. The combination of lenses and filters we used to shoot (see August entries), including a wide angle lens, resulted in an effect called “vignetting.” This is where the outer edges of the recorded image pick up black rings, which are cropped from the camera’s viewfinder. The Sony VX-1000 camera is known for this, and I thought we were aware enough before shooting to avoid it. Nope. There are entire scenes-minutes long-where we were shooting a farmer moving a stream of irrigation water that have pretty deep rings around the image. Whether it’s fixable or not or usable or not remains to be determined.
Poking around yielded this insane article by Paynie, who shot, edited and screened a feature-length dv docu about this year’s Burning Man festival. Sounds amazing, and on an impressive schedule. “BurnBabyBurn,” is playing December 1 at the New York Independent Film & Video Festival (in LA, somehow). Get tickets here. If only my grandparents hadn’t chosen 2001 to stop attending Burning Man, maybe I could’ve made more progress by now…
Sitting at JFK in the UA/BA lounge, waiting for my flight to London. My pal Andrew left on his full BA flight already, while my schedule is more leisurely (and my United flight barely half full). After birthing this morning’s entry, I read this article in the NY Times by John Tierney, which parallels my post of 28 Sept (see archives) and which plays right into discussions Chad and I have had in the wake. Favorite line from the article: “They want to see history with their own eyes, just like Oprah Winfrey and the other V.I.T.’s.”
National was practically empty; faint scent Cinnabon and National Guardsmen with AK-47’s. No free NYTimes (b/c they weren’t delivered to the airport today, apparently). Absolutely no delays taking off or landing, even into LaGuardia. Our flight’s approach was across Brooklyn, not up the Hudson, which offered a wide (but not straight down) view of downtown Manhattan. Everybody on the plane was staring or craning to see. [ shots of Manhattan from a private plane]
This article from the NY Times about Verizon looking into how to preserve voice mail messages from people who died reminded me of this extended article from the Washington Post this summer, which I’d saved:
“Once, many months after my father had died, we had an electrical storm that knocked out the power in my house,” writes Lisa Valentine of Reston in an e-mail. “The answering machine in my room was blinking furiously when the power finally went back on. I hit the ‘play’ button and heard my father’s voice:
” ‘Lisa, it’s Dad, give me a call.’
“Needless to say, I kind of freaked out until I realized the tape was playing old messages that I thought had been erased forever.
“It was nice to hear from my dad again. But he didn’t leave a number where I could reach him.”
[NYT by Jayson Blair. WP by Joel Garreau]
The Sundance Channel currently has a “Cinema Verite” month, including this documentary history, “Cinema Verite: Defining the Moment,” by the National Film Board of Canada (gotta love those Canadians). Finally, I found this page on Sundance’s site with information on the whole series and some relevant links. Time to call the web usability experts.
More poems, this time from W. H. Auden, whose work also turned up with noted frequency. These lines, set a few blocks from my house, could have been written last week, not in 1940:
The unmentionable odour of death/Offends the September night.