Tert–n Chungdrag Dorje, alias Steven Seagal "The Action Lama"

"This is part of an unrelenting campaign to disparage Mr. Seagal and reads like a bad screenplay."

-- A disciple/attorney of Hollywood Buddhist and (how'd we miss that miraculous birth?) reincarnated lama Steven Seagal denies His Holiness was behind threats against an LA Times reporter. Lama Seagal is in a strictly-business dispute with some Mafia-linked partners.

"...mostly he talked about his buddhist practice, 'penis moments' re: bilbao..."
NY Times architecture critic (and Hollywood-style Buddhist) Herbert Muschamp apparently parodies himself at a recent Columbia Univ. Architourism conference.

"They are astoundingly innovative, creative and exciting."

-- Roland Betts, LMDC, praising the new round of designs he commissioned from star-architects for rebuilding the WTC site. Apparently, the LMDC's parent entity, the Port Authority, is proceeding independently and looks forward to "combining the best elements of the seven design teams" with the plans it's developing on its own.

November 21, 2002

A Scene from Smoke

9. INT: EVENING. THE BROOKLYN CIGAR CO. [search for "9" on the page]

...

AUGGIE (Harvey Keitel)
Sometimes it feels like my hobby is my real job, and my job is just a way to support my hobby. ...

Screenplays for You, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. [thanks to Lightning Field]

Commercial production house Zooma Zooma is hosting The Reel Truth [Quicktime], a hi-larious, sodium pentathol-laced short film, set on the set of a commercial. My favorite scene is the one with the MBA client in it:

INT - SOUNDSTAGE

Accompanied by the ass-kissing PRODUCER, the suit-wearing BRAND MANAGER visits the set to consult with the DIRECTOR.


BRAND MANAGER
Can I look through the camera?

DIRECTOR
Of course, of course. It's a little known fact that some of the world's best cinematography is the result of input from arrogant, pinheaded business school grads like yourself.


BRAND MANAGER
Oh, Naturally. (pause)
I think we should go tighter. I don't really know why, or even what I'm talking about, but this is my sole creative act this year, aside from choosing the color of my minivan.

This just confirms the genius of my original idea: What if we make the business school grad the director? My brilliance dazzles even me sometimes... [via BoingBoing and this Jim Griffin]

Followup: According to AdAge, director Tim Hamilton made the short as a sequel to Truth in Advertising, for an awards show. And if you have to ask his nationality, well...

My cheap-ass copy of Gravity's Rainbow It's not quite like whipping out your copy of Lolita at the playground, but it sometimes feels weird to read Gravity's Rainbow "in public." Can't say if it's the book itself, which is rather unsettling and is shot through with Strangelove-ian absurdity; my used paperback copy (which I sought out for instant authenticity, as if I pulled it off that cinderblock bookcase I apparently had in apparent grad school); the conspicuous tape job (I was clearly the first person to crack the spine. Documenta packing tape ROCKS, by the way.); or general marginalization anxiety (Anthony Lane, quoting and reviewing Mason & Dixon: "'What we were doing out in that Country was brave, scientifick beyond my understanding, and ultimately meaningless.' He sounds like a reader of Thomas Pynchon.").

1. In the middle of a crowded contemporary art auction at Christie's. (Just during the lulls, the Bleckners and the Basquiats).

2. At Singin' In The Rain, which I found to be kind of corny. Or is it just me? Wendy Wasserstein loves it and claims it's not "cloying or campy." In some moments, the saturated colors and weightlessness prefigure Jacques Demy's Umbrellas of Cherbourg, which I like much more (and which turns out to be anything but weightless).

The Comden & Green "Moses Supposes" song is pretty good, though, possibly because it tries even a little to fit into the story. And I came away really admiring the long, near-stationary takes during the musical/dance numbers, the "master-master", if you will. It's the diametric opposite of Moulin Rouge (110+ edits/min in songs). I'd like to reference/adapt this in the Animated Musical, and I think it can work well, as more than just historical homage.

Long choreographed shots of musical scenes live on in the auteur-y crane/steadicam shots directors show off with (cf., The Shining, Touch of Evil, The Player, Goodfellas, Boogie Nights, Bonfire of the Vanities even).

The Search, 2002, by Noam Sher

Video games have turned this symbol of technological virtuosity, literally, into child's play: first-person shooters are long, unedited takes by definition. Machinima takes advantage of the game "camera" to turn a programmable/alterable game engine into a virtual movie studio. Somewhere in between Scorcese, Anderson Lara Croft is my story, Singin' in the Rain meets Quake III.

"Mistral Island Manuscript acquired by Univ. of Texas"
According to this report from last week, Pynchon collaborated with Kirkpatrick Sale in 1958 to create a musical set decades in the future, where IBM controls the world. Sale gave "Luddite" its contemporary meaning and "wrote extensively on the political, economic, sociological, and environmental impacts of technology."

I'm backing quietly out of the room...

Pynchon and animation: "Except maybe for Brainy Smurf, it's hard to imagine anybody these days wanting to be called a literary intellectual, though it doesn't sound so bad if you broaden the labeling to, say, 'people who read and think.'" (from "Is it OK to be a Luddite? in the NYTimes.)
And Pynchon and comic books: Charles Bock's loong, engaging ArtKrush rumination on Tolstoy, Great Art, and growing from the X-Men to, yes, Gravity's Rainbow.)

And some (non-Pynchonian) animation links: Toon Shader, a software tool for bringing hand-drawn cel animation and computer animation together, created by Michael Arias, a CG Guru who works with Hayao Miyazaki, called the greatest animation artist ever (people at the Mouse think so, too, you know).

A Village Voice article by Anthony Kaufman about cinematographer Ellen Kuras' ability to make beautiful DV.

November 18, 2002

On Illegal Art


Superstar still, 1987, Todd Haynes
Superstar, 1987, Todd Haynes

Last night we (finally) saw Todd Haynes' Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story last night. After years of being snubbed by the clerks at Kim's Video when I'd ask for it, and half-hearted attempts to get a bootleg copy from someone or other, we just walked over to Anthology and there it was, showing as part of Illegal Art!.

(The first time I went to Kim's, a Suit workin' for the Mouse but livin' in Chinatown and yearning for street cred, I cannily asked if Bladerunner wasn't in the Ridley Scott section. The scornful reply: "Noo, the Douglas Trumbull section.")

Anyway, Superstar turned out to be both better and worse than I imagined. Definitely worthy of its reputation, it's a canny film; it's a little eerie how well the Barbie doll concept works. The bootleg copy they showed, though, sucked. If only there were a medium you could copy without generational degradation... [If you don't have connections to the video underground either, you can watch Superstar in even lower-res online.]

Giant Steps, 2001, Michal Levy Giant Steps, stills, 2001, Michal Levy

Other films screened with Superstar, all using unauthorized/illegal footage or music in some way. For my money, the best ones were not about appropriation per se; Michal Levy's Giant Steps, for example, is a fun, beautiful CG interpretation of John Coltrane's canonical (and surely impossible to clear) recording.

A slightly unrelated note: Apparently, my new haircut is something of a proto-mullet, not unlike Todd Haynes'.

Image from Aspen 5+6, 1967, Sol Lewitt Serial Project #1, 1966, Sol Lewitt, from Aspen 5+6

Unbelieveable. The entire collection of Aspen: The Magazine in a Box, is now online. It's the magazine equivalent of Kieslowski's Dekalog: almost completely unknown, yet highly respected and influential within its narrow audience.

In a fit of John Cage admiration, I tracked down and bought Aspen 5+6 several years ago. In addition to some floppy little records with Cage and Morton Feldman on it, there's a reel of 8mm film with works by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Robert Rauschenberg, and others; documents of Sol Lewitt's seminal 1966 1967 exhibit at the Dwan Gallery in LA, Serial Project #1, and a little Tony Smith sculpture you can make yourself.

Not owning a record player or an 8mm projector, my edition of Aspen has been more a glassined, bubblewrapped holy relic than anything else. Until now. The Moholy-Nagy film is full of glare, shadows and light reflecting off of machinery, as if Jeremy Blake and Paul Thomas Anderson were the same person. Check it out. Thanks, UBU (and thanks, Fimoculous for the link.)

Print
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.

Advertising
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.

Pot
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?

Auction
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).

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

Category: art

recent projects, &c.


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Social Medium:
artists writing, 2000-2015
Paper Monument, Oct. 2016< br /> 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
Mar – Dec 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"
Mar 20 - May 8 @apexart, NYC


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

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