Saturday, March 31, 2012

Currently listening to...

...the awesome groove of "Need One" by Martina Topley Bird. I have this on repeat at this moment--I can't get it out of my head. WOW, what a kick-ass song...

Spiritual but logical...

If only all religious leaders made as much sense...

Here is the complete quote:
"If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change. In my view, science and Buddhism share a search for the truth and for understanding reality. By learning from science about aspects of reality where its understanding may be more advanced, I believe that Buddhism enriches its own worldview."
--Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama

BEAUTY: Painting--Michael Dumontier and Neil Farber

The Royal Art Lodge was a Winnipeg art collective, now-disbanded. But two of the members, Michael Dumontier and Neil Farber have continued making art together under their own names. I am absolutely in love with their series of paintings called "Animals With Sharpies," which is hilarious, ironic, touching, and poignant all at once. As with most art which shows animals behaving in human ways, it says more about human traits than the animals themselves. Look at the array of animal "personalities" which are actually comments about qualities we traditionally attribute to these creatures, but with human intentions and ideas. It's not only about what they are writing or thinking, but what they are capable of writing or thinking: some write beautiful poetry, others write recipes, while others write nonsense.

Their blog features many outstanding paintings chock full of marvelous insights and ideas:

Friday, March 30, 2012

"Ekki Múkk"

Oh, be still my heart...a NEW Sigur Ros, titled "Valtari," will be released on May 28th, 2012.

"Ekki Múkk." This is the first glimpse of what is to come: a languid slice of heaven. Sigur Ros have never been a band in a hurry. To enjoy them, one must move at their pace, and accept... one must surrender to something other. To me, their music has always sounded like the feeling of compassion made audible.

Currently listening to...

...the English duo Alpines (not to be confused with the Australian band Alpine) sing "Cocoon"--a really appealing mix of electronics and an emotive, ethereal voice a tad reminiscent of Kate Bush.

BEAUTY: Mixed Media--Paige Smith

Paige Smith is a Los Angeles graphic designer and artist who uses the moniker A Common Name. She has recently started a street art project that is original and quite fun... she uses cracks in buildings, empty phone booths, or any little urban space to install "geodes" made of paper and paint! These faux-mineral specimens mimic the crystal formations found in rocks (geodes) and caves in nature, and their unexpected presence turns walking down the street into a city-spelunking adventure! I'd love to stumble across one of these.

BEAUTY: Installation--Mark Jenkins

I have been seeing images of art installations by American artist Mark Jenkins on the web for quite a while now, and as is true of so many things that get posted, blogged, and re-blogged on the net, there was never a credit with the photo. Whose amazing work is this, I would ask myself. And now I know that Jenkins is responsible for some of the funniest, most clever, arresting, and frightening site-specific art installations. He uses clothed human forms as well as human forms, and animals, made entirely of clear packing tape. Some of these pieces are simply lighthearted fun, inspired by a certain shape or location as in the toast popping up from the sewer grate below, but some are dark commentaries on societal or political situations. Marvelous work.

BEAUTY: Sculpture--Gino De Dominicis

The late Italian artist Gino De Dominicis was famous for putting long pointed noses on his figurative pieces. This shockingly monumental sculpture, an accurate replica of a human skeleton, with the De Dominicis signature nose of course, was created in 1990, eight years before his death. Puzzlingly titled Calamita Cosmica in Italian, or Cosmic Magnet in English, the piece has been displayed in various locations around Europe including Milan (first three photos) and Versailles (fourth photo). It currently resides in Rome at the Museo Nazionale della Arti del XXI Secolo.

Currently listening to...

..."The Fox" by Swedish duo Niki and the Dove. The music is so compelling and the words are so poetic and archetypal. But the video is amazing: watch the mask (reminiscent of Mummenschanz).

There's some incredible music coming out of the Scandinavian countries these days...

"Whenever she's awake
She climbs a hill,
And crosses a dark trail
And there she finds the fox
In a wooded glade.
She lies by a rock and she's red.
She smells of violets and vetiver
She flicks her ears,
As I whisper...

I've grown a handsome tall tree, mother
And I want to bear a fruit, for you.
And I have carried your fears and your hopes, father
They're so heavy on my back, oh you should know.
Catch some sleep.

I want to find the eagles nest, oh take me with you.
And I've been waiting a lifetime for this, and I am ready.
Just believe me, I've been up all night, they call me crazy.
But I want to see what the sky looks like from your view.

But I saw your face carved in clay, and I saw (she saw)
It outlined against a purple sky,
It goes loud and deep in me, loud and deep.
My home is on that cliff.

I want to find the eagles nest, oh take me with you.
And I've been waiting a lifetime for this, and I am ready.
Forever wanderer, I wandered all my life, they never knew me.
I want to what the sky looks like from your view.

I've grown a handsome tall tree, mother
And I want to bear a fruit, for you.
And I have carried your fears and your hopes, father
I'll conquer them, for me and you.

I've grown a handsome tall tree, ooooohh
And I want to bear a fruit, for you.
And I have carried your fears and your hopes, father
I will conquer them, for me and you."

Thursday, March 29, 2012

R.I.P. Adrienne Rich

On March 27th, 2012, we lost one of the luminaries of contemporary poetry, Adrienne Rich. She was one of the most influential and widely read poets and essayists of the last 50 years.

Today, a friend sent me these two Rich poems to mark her death. They are transfixing, commanding yet subtle pieces of art.

By Adrienne Rich

We are driven to odd attempts; once it would not have occurred to me to put out in a boat, not on a night like this.
Still, it was an instrument, and I had pledged myself to try any instrument that came my way. Never to refuse one from conviction of incompetence.
A long time I was simply learning to handle the skiff; I had no special training and my own training was against me.
I had always heard that darkness and water were a threat.
In spite of this, darkness and water helped me to arrive here.
I watched the lights on the shore I had left for a long time; each one, it seemed to me, was a light I might have lit, in the old day.

By Adrienne Rich

I know you are reading this poem
late, before leaving your office
of the one intense yellow lamp-spot and the darkening window
in the lassitude of a building faded to quiet
long after rush-hour. I know you are reading this poem
standing up in a bookstore far from the ocean
on a gray day of early spring, faint flakes driven
across the plain’s enormous spaces around you.
I know you are reading this poem
in a room where too much has happened for you to bear
where the bedclothes lie in stagnant coils on the bed
and the open valise speaks of flight
but you cannot leave yet. I know you are reading this poem
as the underground train loses momentum and before running
up the stairs
toward a new kind of love
your life has never allowed.
I know you are reading this poem by the light
of the television screen where soundless images jerk and slide
while you wait for the newscast from the Intifada.
I know you are reading this poem in a waiting-room
of eyes met and unmeeting, of identity with strangers.
I know you are reading this poem by fluorescent light
in the boredom and fatigue of the young who are counted out,
count themselves out, at too early an age. I know
you are reading this poem through your failing sight, the thick
lens enlarging these letters beyond all meaning yet you read on
because even the alphabet is precious.
I know you are reading this poem as you pace beside the stove
warming milk, a crying child on your shoulder, a book in your
because life is short and you too are thirsty.
I know you are reading this poem which is not your language
guessing at some words while others keep you reading
and I want to know which words they are.
I know you are reading this poem listening for something, torn
between bitterness and hope
turning back once again to the task you cannot refuse.
I know you are reading this poem because there is nothing else
left to read
there where you have landed, stripped as you are.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

iamamiwhoami: "play"

Another entry in the iamamiwhoami saga was released today! AMAZING music in this one; I suspect it is the closest they will ever get to "funk."

She can dance all night, and make up songs to sing....

I am reminded of WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE. Let the Wild Rumpus begin!

As I have said in previous postings, if you are unfamiliar with iamamiwhoami, please do yourself a favor: go to their YouTube channel and watch all of the videos in sequence (oldest to newest). Through these videos, they have told a very abstract story about the legend of the Mandrake root.

Wiki has a good overview of what they have created, but without any editorializing or information about the Mandragora root.

And remember, iamamiwhoami will be releasing an actual physical album, described as an "audio-visual" album, on June 11, 2012.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

DREAM 3.26.12: Christina's Musical

Christina Amphlett, the former lead singer for The Divinyls has come to my house for dinner. I ask her what she has been up to lately. She says she has written and mounted a musical and shows me, on her iPad, pictures from the production. It take place in a prehistoric-like cave that is part of a site of ancient stone ruins. The sets and actors, who are Hindu nuns, rise up from a pool of water while the audience surrounds them in a circle. It looks fascinating.

Don't be afraid of the dark...

"If we make a poem of celebration, it has to include a lot of darkness for it to be real."
--Former U.S. Poet Laureate, Robert Hass

Happy Birthday, Mies!

Happy birthday to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, one of the fathers of modernism in design! He created buildings, homes, furniture and furnishings that reflected a new sensibility. His iconic Farnsworth House in Illinois is now a museum. His skyscraper known as the Seagram Building still stands tall in midtown Manhattan, a testament to modernist architecture. The glorious Barecelona Pavilion (actually the German Pavilion at the 1929 International Exposition) was built in 1928 and 1929 but was torn down after the fair in 1930. It was a sleek, minimalist vision--a study of planes and space--in luxe materials such as marble, red onyx, and travertine. Thankfully, the structure has been recreated in Spain--and is also a museum open to visitors. And his beautiful, sleek furniture is still sold by outlets such as Knoll and Design Within Reach.

Below: two views of the reconstructed Barcelona (German) Pavilion

Below: The iconic Farnsworth House

Below: The Seagram Building at 375 Park Avenue in New York

Below: the Mies van der Rohe-designed Barcelona chair and day bed (designed, as you would imagine, for the Barcelona Pavilion)

Happy birthday, LMVDR! Here is your cake shaped like your Barcelona day bed!

Do check out the links below to learn more...

Monday, March 26, 2012

BEAUTY: Man--Billy Hartman a.k.a. GBH

Back in the late 70s and early 80s, I used to stay up late on the weekend, since it was not a school night, to watch all the rock and roll TV shows like "The Midnight Special" and "Don Kirshner's Rock Concert." One of the odd ones was a show from England called "Let's Rock" in the States but in the UK it was called "Oh, Boy" since it was a revival of the original show of the same name from the 1950s.

The show was a revue of 1950s songs by major UK talents like Lulu and Shakin' Stevens. But the highlight--for me--was the host, GBH, as he called himself: Scottish actor and singer Billy Hartman. He was absolutely gorgeous, rivaling James Dean himself. Stunningly handsome... and he could sing too!