We passed (and then were aggressively re-passed by) an Expedition with this license plate tonight as we drove back to NYC. My mind goes back, oh, about a year. I still relive the horror of that day, those days, trying to register our new car with the VA DMV Where Everything Has Changed After They Issued Driver's Licenses To Some Of The Terrorists. Now they're wearing their facile graphic design on their rear bumpers, if not their sleeves.

There is currently no New York license plate commemorating September 11th or the WTC, but we ended up getting the designed-long-before-9/11 Manhattan license plate after giving up on VA. It looks like this:


An American in Paris, which we got in preparation for the digital Dolby release of Singin' in the Rain coming to Film Forum.

Starship Troopers, Paul Verhoeven's all-too-prescient masterpiece, which seems smarter and smarter every time I see it. It's definitely his best work since the immortal Showgirls. Interesting piece of trivia: Starship Troopers is in the permanent collection of The Museum of Modern Art.

September 11, 2002


The cadence of the names read out this morning reminded me of On Kawara's moving piece at Documenta, One Million Years (Past and Future) which I wrote about here. It is currently on exhibit/being performed at the Akira Ikeda Gallery in Berlin (through Nov. 23). The way the names formed a cross-section of the New York region, as if they could have been read from a New York phone book, reminded me of Chris Burden's 1991 work, The Other Vietnam Memorial [It's the first image on the page], where names from Vietnamese phone books were recombined to generate three million names, representing civilians who died in anonymity and chaos.

unknown found writing, NYC 9/10/02
On the way to an early morning swim, I saw this piece of cardboard propped between the mailbox and the garbage can. After the time-honored New York tradition of taking stuff from the trash home flashed through my mind, I opted to go home and get my camera instead. I found it rather beautiful, in the vein of Islamic calligraphy or the early 90's paintings of Brice Marden. Of course, I have no idea what is says:
  • "I went to Burning Man and all I got was this scrap of cardboard inscribed in a made-up language."
  • "Klingon Imperial Diplomatic Corps - Forest Hills Conclave Minutes, Stardate 90502. Item One: Dispatch envoy to Komputer Repair Guild to get font package working in MSWord."
  • "When you reach the river Hudson, turn the cropduster to the left. Keep your mind clear of any rational thought. Follow the river to the city of the Great Satan. The blasphemous skyscrapers will come into view, but wait to disburse the gas until you are over the island itself."

    Unsurprisingly, it was gone by the time I got home. (Yikes. It didn't take much longer for a kind reader to email and point out that it is definitely not Klingon, as anyone familiar with Lawrence M. Schoen's Comments on [Klingon] Orthography will immediately recognize. Also, the font is available at the Merchant's page of The Klingon Language Institute. Thanks for reining in my reckless speculation. But why don't comments on film or art posts come that quickly?)

  • Here is the first completed version of a screenplay for a short short film (and I AM thinking of shooting it in film), called Penguins (at least until I make some progress on the larger project that this would fit into). Check it out, don't steal it, and let me know what you think.

    September 9, 2002

    WWJC? (What Would Jesus Code?)

    Religious discussion is breaking out all over, in some of the least expected places. A Slashdot interview with Perl (a programming language with a 'religious' following) creator Larry Wall mushroomed as only a Slashdot thread can into an intense discussion on the existence of God, reconciling scientific and faith-related worldviews, and programming. What started it? "the nerdiest expression of theology I've [boingboing contributor Cory Doctorow, that is] ever encountered -- and I mean that in a good way."

    In addition, I've been exchanging email with David Weinberger, who asked for believers' perspectives ("a phenomenology, not a theodicy") on September 11. He got responses from AKMA as well. Humorously, they've dubbed this The Topic that Drove Away Our Readers. Maybe they all went to Slashdot.)

    Last week, I wondered about Kurt Andersen's slightly wistful re-visit/re-spending of his pile of scratch (and confessed to similar ruminations myself from time to time). This week, Fortune checks in with some former "40 Richest Under 40" to see how they're seeking closure regarding the great tragedy that befell this entrepreneurial nation in 2000.

    Of course, the ones who have traded the web for film and art: Josh ", where all the pot is free" Harris, Stephen "what were we smoking at" Paternot, and Ernst "will trade film rights for Cristal" Malmsten, are arguably the most embarrasing of the whole lot. I'm in great company. Of course, Marc Ewing, a RedHat co-founder, is starting a mountainclimbing magazine, so it's not a total wash.

    Dateline, Malibu: Directin' ain't easy, even for Stephen Gaghan, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Traffic, a man who has Steven Soderbergh on his Buddy List (and IM's him for advice on "Super-35 blown up to anamorphic" or not). He writes about his unblinking-but-not-too-pity-inducing directorial debut in the NYTimes. Gaghan also tells a good story (ahem, surprised? He's an O-winning screenwriter.) on the Criterion DVD for Traffic.

    September 8, 2002

    MemeFeeder online film project

    And speaking of composite films by collections of directors, MemeFeeder is a collaborative online movie I am participating in. Based somewhere in the aether (the use of the phrase "first in best dressed" makes me think at least one Australian is involved), MemeFeeder has invited ten directors (and other contributors) to each create a one-minute silent film based on a scene from the storyboard they've provided. The ten completed minutes will be runtogethertomake a ten-minute short, which will screen online in mid-October. Let me know if you're interested in participating on the film/scene.

    Of course, I don't mean the whole world; just all New Yorkers. The terrorists' message would have gotten an auto-reply saying, "Sorry, you missed us. We're all in Toronto, eh?" Alas, it was not to be.
    This year, however, everyone DOES seem to be in Toronto. And they're all making short films dealing with September 11th. Just
    look at the list of directors participating in 11'09"01, a collection of 11 shorts put together by a French director, Alain Brigand: Ken Loach, Claude Lelouch, Danis Tanovic, Sean Penn, Amos GitaÔ, Shohei Imamura, Samira Makhmalbaf, Youssef Chahine, Idrissa Ouedraogo, Mira Nair, and Alejandro Gonz·lez IŇ·rritu.

    Each film is 11 minutes, 9 seconds and 1 frame long, as if the date were a timecode. Check this description of Sean Penn's short in a Guardian (UK) review from Venice:

    Some avoid the politics completely. Sean Penn's beautiful and moving short film shows the ordinary early morning of an elderly New York widower. He shaves, he dresses, he talks constantly to his dead wife, tells her the apartment is just too dark. When he wakes up from a mid-morning nap, the room is flooded with sunlight and the dead flowers on the windowsill are blooming: the towers that had blocked out their light have crumbled to nothing.

    The loft where we shot the New York scenes of Souvenir November 2001 was actually such a place (minus Ernest Borgnine, of course). The friends who let us shoot there had to cover their 14' high windows with butcher paper; with the World Trade Center gone, sunlight poured in from the suddenly empty southern view and threatened to damage their art. The films screen in Toronto on Sept. 11 and 12. Since originally writing this entry, an excellent article showed up in the NYTimes.

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    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.

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