November 2006 Archives

November 30, 2006

Wow. Metropolis. Kino. Murnau.


"At last we have the movie every would-be cinematic visionary has been trying to make since 1927." - AO Scott, NYT

Fritz Lang's Metropolis (Restored Authorized Edition) DVD [amazon, image via coudal]

November 30, 2006

Arty Like It's 2001

Roll up a host of moribund art magazines.
Start an art news portal.
Launch a big, glogsy new magazine about the [sic] Biennale Lifestyle.
Buy an art fair.

It hurts to say it because I have friends there, but am I the only one who thinks everything LTB does is like five years behind the actual art world it's chasing?

Rather than be an also-ran in every possible endeavor, why not take some time to think and get ahead of the game? Make a difference and stake a claim and support something that no one else is, or that no one else can see? Rather than be the artnet of 1997, why not be the artangel of 1993? Or the early Lightning Field-era Dia of 1977, or of Chelsea-settling 1987, for that matter? Or the Lannan Foundation of whenever?

Because as the NetJets guy in Miami'll tell you, the one thing the art world is not short of is ambitious multimillionaires jonesing for an audience.

November 28, 2006

VV: Christine Vachon, Sellout

She insists that as "independent film keeps getting bigger, I want to make it small again," only to confess later during a casting meeting for the movie Infamous that (her italics) "there is nothing more important than sitting in a room with Julia Roberts." A more forthright book would've taken the indie community to task for selling its soul to the studios and jumping into the sack with award-hungry stars.
Not that the Voice is the fount of filmic credibility lately, and I'm not one to begrudge someone's weariness of artistic suffering, but for some reason, I did kind of hope Vachon would always be a scrappy pioneer. Or that she'd keep fighting for new generations of filmmakers not her own, which seems to be the root of the sellout issue.

Review: Christine Vachon's A Killer Life [villagevoice]

A question to Mac heads out there: I'm thinking of getting a new machine, and I want to hear how/what people have decided: I want a new laptop, that will run Final Cut Pro, obviously, but that's easy and portable enough to take on the plane and train regularly.

I can't decide between the 13" black MacBook and the 15" MacBook Pro.[1] On paper, the performance seems nearly identical, as if it's only the screen size that differs. Frankly, I don't feel like such a size queen that I have to have the bigger screen, but is the 13" really just too small to run FCP effectively? What about combining it with a bigger monitor at home?

And now the real question: does the MacBook scream "cheap," while the black MacBook screams "I paid $150 to look like a Thinkpad, but I won't pay $400 for a much better computer!" Or does the MacBook Pro scream "I'll buy anything Jobs tells me too, the bigger the better!"

John Hodgman is proving to be of little help on this matter.

[1] The white MacBook seems cheap to me, and a little girly [pace everyone], and the 17" Pro just seems unwieldly. So, like an SAT question, you can eliminate A and D immediately.

November 25, 2006

Art Blimps Over Miami

abmb_skywalkers.jpgIt's what I've always said Art Basel Miami Beach needed more of: blimps. And now they've got'em. It's almost enough to make me wish I wasn't going to be in Kyoto.

A beachside Blimp Parade with characters from artists I actually like, like Ara Peterson, Misaki Kawai, and others, is curated/organized by Friends With You, the Miami vinyl/naugahyde art collective whose Malfi dolls have tea parties with my daughter on a regular basis.

Alas, I'll be watching the proceedings on flickr.[1]

If you're free and want to wrangle a blimp Friday, Dec. 7th, 2pm, get in touch with the blimpfolks asap. Details are at supertouch.

[1] Then we'll reconvene here to talk about the differences between Arne Quinze's Burning Man-to-Basel publicity stunt for Lexus and an art event sponsored by Scion. It's not what kind of Toyota you drive that matters; it's who's driving.

November 21, 2006

On Robert Altman

After memorizing The Player, the visceral Short Cuts got me hugely excited for Pret a Porter. Oops. At the time, I had to learn for myself what Pauline Kael knew long ago: she "joked about his fertile seventies output that every other film was a masterpiece and that she wished she could skip the ones in between."

The quote's from David Edelstein's remembrance of Altman for NYMag. It's worth a read. [nymag]

Meanwhile, Tony Scott reminds me that that incredible Lily Tomlin-Meryl Streep schtick at the Oscars last spring was exactly the kind of offhand-yet-impossible tour de acting force Altman was able to capture. or coax. or catalyze in his films. [nyt]

And then there's a real leaping off point. David at GreenCine points back to Matthew Zoller Seitz's Altman Blogathon Weekend last March, in anticipation of the long overdue Altman Oscars.

Theresa Duncan's own remembrance of McCabe and Mrs. Miller is awesome, especially the anecdote at the end about Leonard Cohen finally coming around to liking the film that he reluctantly licensed his music to.


The FBI said Monday that it has recovered a 1778 painting by the Spanish artist Francisco de Goya that was stolen as it was being taken to an exhibition earlier this month.

"Children with a Cart," which disappeared en route from the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City and was valued at about $1.1 million, appeared to be unharmed, said Les Wiser, agent in charge of the Newark FBI office.

Steven Siegel, a spokesman for the FBI, said the bureau recovered the painting Saturday in New Jersey, but would not be more specific about where or how it was located.

FBI Recovers Stolen Goya Painting [ap/seattle p-i via artforum]

She goes to the trouble of using both "quinary" and "kith," but for some reason, Thomas Pynchon's new book, Against The Day, does not face the unbridled, in-character wrath of The Full Kakutani.

Maurizio Cattelan's Not afraid of love, 2000, shown at Marian Goodman. [via artnet]


Mr. Snuffalupagus in storage on the set of Sesame Street [via flickr]

I was just working with a John Cage recording on in the background which included his reading of excerpts from his journals. It included Cage telling this story, and it made me want to see what "going out of Holland backwards" meant, so I Googled it.

I still don't know what it means, but when Cage told the story, he was the smoker, and instead of "wife," he said "Merce Cunningham":

In 1959 my wife and I toured Northern France and the Low Countries by traveling the intricate inland waterways – the canals that pervade this part of Europe. As we were leaving Belgium and entering The Netherlands, the fog became so thick that instead of our barge docking at a customs station, to expedite matters, customs officials came aboard the barge.

The passengers formed into several lines, and one by one were questioned. My wife was in one line and I in another. My wife was a smoker and I was not. However, I was taking five cartons of cigarettes into Northern Europe for her, and she had that number herself.

We were traveling through Holland to Luxembourg, and back through Belgium to France. The customs of all those countries varied with regard to cigarettes, For instance, you could at that time take five cartons per person into Belgium, but only two per person into Holland.

When I got to my customs officer, all of this was clear to both of us. Out of the goodness of his heart, he was reluctant to deprive me of my three extra cartons or to charge the heavy duty on them, but he found it difficult to find an excuse for letting me off.

Finally, he said, “Are you going to go out of Holland backwards?”

I said, “Yes.”

He was overjoyed. Then he said, “You can keep all the cigarettes. Have a good trip.”

I left the line and noticed that my wife had just reached her customs officer and was having some trouble about the extra cartons. So I went over and told the officer that my wife was going out of Holland backwards. He was delighted, saying, “Oh, in that case there’s no problem at all.”

Non Sequitars [sp] []
John Cage Featured on KPFA's Ode To Gravity Series (December 12, 1987) []

Even when I worked for The Mouse, I cringed and laughed at the pile-up mash-ups of corporate life and pop culture. On the rarest occasions, like with Atomic Revolution, the nuclear propaganda comic book produced by adman M. Philip Copp for his Connecticut yacht club buddies at General Dynamics can actually be a powerful, if overlooked work of art. Mostly, they're kitschy train wrecks, though, like the commissioned corporate musicals and company anthems for the likes of KPMG.


Because the genre's signal-to-noise ratio is so low, I avoided watching "One Bank," the video making the rounds this week where some Bank of America execs turned U2's "One Love" into a celebration of BofA's merger with credit card giant MBNA. Known quantity, I figured.

[Forget for a moment that uncompromising rock artists--Bono included--have been dogpiling onto the corporate moneywagon for years now. Suggs and his mates from Madness, for example, know better than to show their sellout faces around my house after allowing Maxwell House frickin' Coffee to desecrate the anthem of my youth.]

But Andy's description, "painful to watch in its sincerity," lured me in. [He really is a master of the <10 word write-up.] It's really amazing to watch, precisely because of the balls-out sincerity. That, and the dude's not actually a bad singer; sincerity you can fake, but the guy has chops.

I decided the appropriately bemused thing to do was to keep my eye out for him at BofA locations in Manhattan, and when I saw him stepping out for a smoke, I'd give him the "Are you Ethan Chandler??!" high five that a true Internet celebrity deserves.

But a quick Google search flipped my telescope around completely. Turns out the guy had some songs and and an EP published by EMI in the 1990's; he fronted a cover band that played gigs around the Northeast; and he put out a CD in 2002. Ethan Chandler isn't a banker who thinks he's a musician; he's a musician whose dayjob is in a bank.

As a finance industry survivor who's wrestled for years with how to balance making a living and pursuing a passion, I've gotta give Chandler props for trying to bridge his two seemingly incompatible worlds. If you see Chandler at the bank, meanwhile, give him a high five for me.

Buy Ethan Chandler's presciently titled 2002 CD, "Better Days Ahead" []

Today, this is just one more picture of a well-balanced bastard. Twenty years from now, though, this dude's family will sell this photo to the Guggenheim:


Well Balanced Bastards of The Day []
The photo's from Hans Kemp's book, Bikes of Burden [amazon via]

November 8, 2006

BLDGBLOG On Ballard On Film

Geoff de BLDGBLOG has a long interview at the JG Ballard megasite in which he discusses [what else] Ballard & architecture [actually, a lot else. the dude thinks in eyepopping paragraphs]:

What do you think of Cronenberg’s Crash?

It’s alright — but I’m not a big fan. It takes itself way too seriously, for instance, and ends up just boring the shit out of everyone. I think it was miscast, badly paced, and not explicit enough about its themes. As it is, the movie appears to be about a bunch of dull and uninteresting Canadians who get into a car accident one day and end up wife-swapping. Yet, having said that, the movie isn’t funny at all.


Which Ballard book would you like to see filmed?

You’re going to think I’m out of my mind, but I’d like to see Steven Spielberg direct The Drowned World — as long as he didn’t add any kids to the screenplay. Or Danny Boyle film Concrete Island. Or, for that matter, Wong Kar-wai could film Concrete Island, in Chinese, set in Hong Kong. Or Shanghai — a nice bit of Ballardian symmetry there.


Do you feel that Blade Runner’s an overrated text as far as architectural criticism is concerned? It always gets name checked, but one thing I feel it missed was the ‘invisibility’ of new technology. It’s probably the last of the old-school dystopian sci fi films, where the city itself was a major character, imposing and present…

As an architectural film, yes: I do think Blade Runner is over-rated. Even as a film about urban design or the urban future. But as a film about the overwhelming sadness of being alone in the world – in that regard I think it’s unbelievable, and deserves its reputation...

Also noteworthy: repeated uses of the world, "whilst."

The Politics of Enthusiasm: An Interview with Geoff Manaugh [ballardian via bb]

Wow. The sale of one of the paintings I wrote about in the NYT the other day, a blue-period Picasso portrait being sold by Andrew Lloyd Webber,was recently ordered stopped by a Manhattan court. An heir to Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, who was forced to sell the painting in 1934, filed the suit.

Update: Thanks, Google News. Actually, according to the NYT's report, the judge refused to block the sale. The Times also mentions the absence of any efforts by the heirs over the last 70 years to pursue a restitution claim, which is why I was surprised in the first place. Go about your business, nothing to see here.

Update update: Or maybe the sale won't be blocked, just withdrawn. The Art Newspaper's reporting that Christie's may hold off on the sale tonight. Good thing that painting's on one of them Lazy Susan deals.

Picasso Sale Blocked Over Nazi Claims []
Or Not: Judge Refuses to Halt Auction of a Picasso [nyt]
Christie’s may withdraw Lloyd Webber’s Blue Period Picasso from sale [, thanks marc]

November 6, 2006

Does Spelling Count?


Speaking of the 80's, that was the last time I remember cracking open a copy of Interview Magazine. Judging from the excruciatingly tired art and pop culture names peppering this quiz given to prospective Interview employees, I guess I haven't missed anything.

Plus, they spelled Philip Taafe, Polly Mellen, Sofia Coppola, and Steven Hawkin wrong.

Interview Pop Culture Test [tsg via gawker]

November 6, 2006

Gears For Fears

Jason posted a link to a preview for the video game Gears of War that uses Gary Jules' and Michael Andrews' acoustic cover of Tears for Fears' "Mad World" as the soundtrack.


The original music video for Jules' version is a favorite of mine. Even though the cult of Michel Gondry really bugs, I'm mostly a fan, and I'm a sucker for a well-done tracking shot, especially an outdoor one that can't involve hundreds of takes because it relies on daylight.

That, and T4F allows me to relive my early teen mopiness and recall those days when my biggest dilemma was not living in London or LA.

Background on the Gondry video; a 2004 Chris Norris review of the video for the NYT. The Gondry video is on the Director's Cut DVD for Donnie Darko, which restores some of the music from the Sundance version of the film.

That was my original choice for a title, but I'm happy enough just not botching the Hamlet reference. Thanks to all the people who helped with interviews and research and editing.

Since the story closed, I've heard from a couple of people who saw the Dora Maar sale, and it was even more incredible than I thought. Apparently, the guy bidding just kept waving his paddle all the way through the sale, even while he had the bid and was waiting for a competitor to respond. It's as if he wasn't following the proceedings at all, just waving the paddle until Tobias Meyer told him he'd won.

Rule No. 1: Don't Yell, "My Kid Could Do That" [nyt]

Ersatz Richard Serra / Robert Smithson installation

They're doing construction in DC, and the workers dumped a found-art version of a Richard Serra/Robert Smithson installation in front of our house.

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
greg [at] greg [dot ] org

find me on twitter: @gregorg

about this archive

Posts from November 2006, in reverse chronological order

Older: October 2006

Newer December 2006

recent projects, &c.

Our Guernica Cycle, 2017 –
about/kickstarter | exhibit, 2017

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

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

Chop Shop
curated by Magda Sawon
1-7 March 2016

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

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

TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -

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

"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.

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

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