Talked to MoMA today to finalize the exhibition format for Souvenir November 2001. A film transfer would be really lush and sexy. Yesterday, I saw a video projected version of a short I'd seen at the New Directors/New Films series last spring. The difference in the image, particularly in the color intensity, was marked. A film transfer would also be a couple grand, and given that I still feel a slight itch to finetune the sound (and/or music) a bit, it's money I'd rather save for when the movie is triple-locked and padlocked locked.

Been working on advance press, doing selective flogging, and talking to a couple of publicists. We're preparing a mailing to go out to the collective lists of the crew, which includes most NY media, all the art media (Jonah, the DP has been getting a lot of attention lately for his own fine art photography and video work), and a bunch of dawgs, to use the vernacular.

Something's working. I was introduced to someone (with a much higher Q-rating than mine) who promptly asked, "You have a website? about a movie? Is that you?" First time that's happened.

Walking through midtown today, I was surprised to come across three people firing up old school (ie., on the street)r than tobacco among the traditional smoker exiles. Was it a coincidence that they were each in front of a company whose chief product is idea generation?

Went to the contemporary art auctions Wed./Thurs. at Christie's. If there's a pop coming to that bubble, it wasn't yet. Crowds were, well, crowded, and bidding was consistently active.

I definitely don't collect to make money. Making money'd entail selling, and the idea of parting with a work just confounds me. Still, watching an auction can be like repeatedly clicking Reload on your E*Trade account; in your head, you mark your own taste to market. When a Flavin and some Donald Judd sculptures did very well, for example, the Italian woman next to me whipped out her mobile phone and rattled off the results. << Si, como nostro. como nostro >>, she repeated excitedly. Molto buono, indeed.

my favorite: an amazing, early Judd desk and chairs, in Mahogany.  $300,000 Desk & Chairs, 1988, Donald Judd, sold at Christie's Nov. 14, 2002 (image: Christie's)

So how'd my taste do? Pretty good, I have to say. Strong, smart pieces by artists whose work I really enjoy--Donald Judd, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Olafur Eliasson, Hiroshi Sugimoto--did well; the prices seemed right, not overheated, like some others (Gursky, Demand, Murakami). One downside: it hurts to see work rise beyond your reach (note to self: close that the five-picture deal...) It's almost enough to make you wish the bubble'd pop.

BusinessWeek's pic of Jack Grubman In June, I wrote about an extraordinary instance of reporting the morning the Worldcom fraud story broke. CNBC's Mike Huckman ambushed Salomon analyst Jack Grubman (until then "The Most Powerful Man In The Telecom Industry") outside his townhouse. Grubman was shaken and disoriented; you could see him struggling to respond to something other than a softball question.
But you could also see then and there Grubman's realization that the world he imagined to be well within his control would soon start falling down, and there was nothing he could do about it. You couldn't write this stuff. (Well, I couldn't. Tennessee Williams, maybe...)

If Grubman's tragedy follows the ancient structure, (and so far it does), this week features the amoibaion or lyric dialogue, what we now call "e-mail." Slate condenses all the salient lines from this episode, where Grubman asks Sanford Weill (his boss's boss's boss's boss) for help getting the Grubman twins into pre-school in exchange for, well, aye, there's the rub. In his e-mail, Grubman gloats: "[AT&T Chairman Michael] Armstrong never knew that we both (Sandy and I) played him like a fiddle." (Note to Jack: Your Rome's burning, dude.)

If there are too many allusions in this posting, it's because I can't figure out if this is a biblical, Greek, Roman, Shakespearean or fable-like drama. But maybe it doesn't matter; the end is likely the same. I do know how the second verse of the nursery rhyme goes: Take the keys and lock 'em up.

Listen to director Harry Shearer (he's the voices in your head, you know) and another independent filmmaker talk about getting people interested in their films and getting their films into theaters [10.5 min.]. From WNYC's On The Media (via Romenesko's MediaNews).

In a NY Times article by Tony Smith: Harley-riding "hackers" clear Sao Paulo's roads for motorcades, score photos with the VIP's they escort. These police escorts are officially called "outriders," but they call themselves batadores, (hackers, after the Brazilian pioneers who cut roads through the jungle), and they apparently leave their royal, diplomatic, and rock star charges in awe. The Empress of Japan insisted on taking a picture with them; Elton John sent an emissary to one batadore's funeral

The Pitch: It's The Bodyguard meets Black Orpheus. International and Conveniently-Multiracial Pop Star on tour in Brazil falls in love with a swaggering bike cop in her motorcade. Get Hazelden on the phone; I need to talk to Mariah Carey...

Ewan McGregor in a car, from fansite Ewan, up close. Image:

The Guardian has an interesting interview with Ewan McGregor who talks about singing, about directing his first short, and about working with directors. There's audio as well, in case you're into the accent.

Ewanspotting, an awe-inducing McGregor fansite confirms a trend: names derived from the first/big movie. Ex. Being Charlie Kaufman and Paul Thomas Anderson's Cigarettes & Coffee (named after his first short).


Welcome to Special Edition of answers, where I provide information you thought you'd find on my weblog but didn't. Until now:

Q "Herbert Muschamp" +Showgirls
Honestly this had me stumped for most of the day. Then, at the bottom of this NY Post Page Six column (I was reading about my friend's new publishing job, I swear.), I found a short article about "Just as I Expected, These Plans Suck," a parody of the NY Times architecture critic's writings on the WTC.

The opening line: "Striding down the row of design proposals for the WTC site, balefully eyeing each inert mien and artificially enhanced plan, I was reminded of the scene in Showgirls where the choreographer grimly surveys his topless charges." The original press mention was in the LA Times; also, check out Michael Sorkin's wickedly telling tabulation of recurring themes and pet architects in Muschamp's columns. I'm working to get a copy of the actual parody. When I do, I'll let you know, so stay tuned.

[Frankly, I've always seen Muschamp's looong Times articles as a Fountainhead-size-novel-in-progress, which (if Sorkin's analysis holds true) is about the madcap theoretical adventures of three architects--Rem, Diller, and Scofidio--as they turn Manhattan into a giant museum/store.]

Pentagon Memorial Ramp, a response by Greg Allen
Proposed Pentagon Memorial Ramp, Greg Allen

Thanks to a very talented friend--no stranger to the question of memorials--who can sketch in 3-D modelling programs the way I can...crank out a Powerpoint deck or a term sheet, I guess, I have some new depictions of the Pentagon Memorial design I created as a response to the finalists chosen by the Army Corps of Engineers and the Competition Jury. See all the entries about memorials here. It's a subject that interests me so much, I made a movie about it.

November 12, 2002

Oh, Canada!

Working on the Animated Musical, which is humming right along, thanks. There's a whole Canada thing in the script, which keeps me on edge a bit. Some puppet-wielding treehuggers may blame South Park for depleting Canada's natural comedy resources, but I'm sorry. When I stare into the deep comedic wells of the whole Canada Concept, I get as giddy as a moose-stepping Republican in the Arctic. Bumperstickers flash before my eyes: Faster, Fat Cat! Drill! Drill! and Fill up my SUV--with cheap laughs!. Ahem.

Twas ever thus, at least as far back as Steve Martin's 1974 debut TV special, "The Funnier Side of Eastern Canada":
Some guy John's Canada parody of Apple's "Switch" Ad? Funny.
The Molson "I AM Canadian" ad it dovetails so well with? Funny.
CBC's Larry Sanders-like series, The Newsroom? Not just funny, but Canada Funny (think "Minnesota Nice").
Suck's early-and-often Canada-bashing? Very Funny.
South Park? Dude.

"I can do things the traditional Hollywood route. I don't have to try the new, unproven Internet."
- Screenwriter Pamela Kay, leaving the new crop of screenwriting communities behind in Matthew Mirapaul's NY Times article, "Aspiring Screenwriters Turn to Web for Encouragement"

What I hate to see/hear in historical documentaries: the expert interviewee's super-affected use of the third person present tense. Listen to a twee example (about 2 minutes in) from NPR's story of the song, Dixie. Obviously, I enjoyed soaking in the smug displeasure 2blowhards' lengthy rant about tedious PBS documentaries.

Movie Reviewers I'm Reading (for wildly different reasons): Flick Filosopher offers engaging, pretension-free, reviews and recommendations for movies and dvds. Just the ticket when you're looking for film-as-unabashed-entertainment. (She didn't like Thin Red Line, but her putting Buckaroo Banzai at #1 more than makes up for such a lapse.)

Zabriskie Point album cover from

When anguish in a world of insufferable fools is your game, though, check out the voluminous and uncomfortably revealing user comments of one Mr Noel Bailey on IMDb. It's lonely at the top of Mr Bailey's bleak world, as he points out (Again! You people!) in a comment on the ur-sequel, 2010: "2001: A Space Odyssey as I suggested some time back is able to be understood and appreciated by marginally less than 5% of the world's population. The chances are therefore, that you didn't make it..accept that!"

Lonely and tough, even when he saw Zabriskie Point in theaters as an impressionable 24-year old: "[ZP] may be shy of 'masterpiece' status (mind you, who amongst is solely qualified to make THAT call?) but it is probably now, THE defining film of 70's culture. A time when acid trips, communal living, even just plain old fashioned 'love' were not that easy a choice to live with!"

What with all my easy-to-live-with acid trips, my film's "lonely solo piano" background music, and my "new, unproven Internet," I guess I should find me a place well-nigh the bottom of that 95%.

In the Casino resaurant, not the slightest impedance at all to getting in, no drop in temperature perceptible to his skin, Slothrop sits down at a table where somebody has left last Tuesday's London Times. Hmmm. Hasn't seen one of them in a while....Leafing through, dum, dum de-doo, yeah, the War's still on, Allies closing in east and west on Berlin, powdered eggs still going one and three a dozen, "Fallen Officers," MacGregory, Mucker-Maffick, Whitestreet, Personal Tributes...Meet Me in St Louis showing at the Empire Cinema (recalls doing the penis-in- the-popcorn-box routine there with one Madelyn, who was less than-- ) --

Tantivy. Oh shit no, no wait--

"True charm...humblemindedness...strength of character...fundamental Christian cleanness and goodness...We all loved Oliver...his courage, kindness of heart and unfailing good humour were an inspiration to all of us...died bravely in battle leading a gallant attempt to rescue members of his unit, who were pinned down by German artillery..." And signed by his most devoted comrade in arms, Theodore Bloat. Major Theodore Bloat now--

Staring out the window, staring at nothing, gripping a table knife so hard maybe some bones of his hand will break. It happens sometimes to lepers. Failure of feedback to the brain--no way to know how fiercely they may be making a fist. You know these lepers. Well--

Ten minutes later, back up in his room, he's lying face-down on the bed, feeling empty. Can't cry. Can't do anything.

They did it it. Took his friend out to some deathtrap, probably let him fake an "honourable" death...and then just closed up his file...

It will occur to him later that maybe the whole story was a lie. They could've planted it easy enough in that London Times, couldn't they? Left the paper for Slothrop to find? But by the time he figures that one out, there'll be no turning around.
- Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow p. 293

So I'm reading Gravity's Rainbow, small, resonant details of which, I freely acknowledge, find their way into the animated musical screenplay. But when I mention Anthony Lane's writing about Cannes one day and read this bit of Pynchon (set in Nice. !) the next, please understand --please, just don't sneer-- if Lewis's post the next day about Cannes and the grisly fate of first-time filmmakers weirds me out just a little.

Not that I've been expecting a full-blown review for Souvenir in the New Yorker...but, maybe a smart little bit in Talk of the Town...

Marie Kreutz (FRANKA POTENTE) tries to understand why a French news story has upset Jason Bourne (MATT DAMON).

Post-script: A reader pointed out that using the mass media to send messages to the troubled protagonist is a plot point in The Bourne Identity as well. So what are you saying? That stealing ideas from Pynchon, the best I can hope for is to be Robert Ludlum? Or that I'm (un)consciously campaigning to have Matt Damon play me in the movie?

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
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artists writing, 2000-2015
Paper Monument, Oct. 2016< br /> ed. by Jennifer Liese
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It Narratives, incl.
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Standard Operating Procedure
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CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
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Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
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