Saturday, May 31, 2014

BEAUTY: Installation--Henrique Oliveira

Using his signature material of wood, artist Henrique Oliveira (previously here) just installed his largest work to date at the Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade in São Paulo, Brazil. A series of tunnels snakes through the cavernous galleries which Oliveira covered with thinly sliced pieces of flexible wood leftover from construction debris. And museum goers are invited to walk the tunnels. Experiencing this stunning interactive installation must feel like burrowing into a subterranean world only moles see... as if you are actually within the root systems of a forest!

And in a powerful political statement concerning the ideas of refuse, economics, and how society treats poverty, Oliveira morphs the wooden tunnels into a replica of the shantytowns/slums or favelas in Brazil.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

BEAUTY: Collage--Michael Lipsey

Michael Lipsey makes collages featuring paint and photos topped with his original witty quotes. It reminds me a bit of some of the work of Michael Dumontier and Neil Farber (previously here, here, here, here, here, and here).

Monday, May 26, 2014

Redwood Holiday

I feel so lucky to live where I do. Northern California is one of the most beautiful places in the United States. We have so many different landscapes and climates: ocean vistas, beaches, mountains, redwood forests, vast expanses of fields, rolling golden hills. Cool and foggy, warm and sunny...
This is one of the many reasons why most of the country wants to move here, and why our real estate bubble never really burst. It is a highly desirable area.

This Memorial Day, a friend and I hiked trails in a local redwood forest. It was a perfect day with perfect weather, and I feel doubly lucky to have such a gorgeous area so close.

BEAUTY: CG--Chris LaBrooy

These supremely imaginative, mind-bending, physics-bending graphic images by Chris LaBrooy are stimulating a deep part of my brain. I have my own strange, object-centered daydreams in which common items morph and take on arcane shapes and uses... and these floating, box-y cars are hitting me just right. Simply incredible...

LaBrooy's images remind me of the work of Matthew Barney--they both like inventing new objects out of old ones.

"I Call This Home" by Saint Saviour

I adore Saint Saviour's voice...
...and in this lovely song "I Call This Home," she feels like she is about to break with emotion...

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Currently listening to...

... the historically relevant "Two Tribes" by then mega-super-band Frankie Goes To Hollywood.

They may be a footnote in the annals of 80s music now, but in 1984, Frankie Goes To Hollywood took the world by storm. Their song "Relax" was everywhere. And this song, "Two Tribes," was their next single. The video seems comical now, but for anyone not alive during that time period, I can't stress enough to you how immediate and frightening and imminent a war with Russia seemed. There was a palpable fear in the zeitgeist, floating in the air...a real and true possibility--no, a likelihood of two super powers going to war. The video by Godley and Creme features look-alike versions of Ronald Reagan and then-Soviet leader Konstantin Chernenko in a fighting ring, going hand to hand while the nations of the world watch. The song itself--and especially the 12" single remixes--features terrifyingly dispassionate samples from the series of twenty "Protect and Survive" public information films for British television, narrated by Patrick Allen.

It was on everyone's mind and the fear was in everyone's heart.

Then-President Ronald Reagan foolishly added to the cultural landscape of fear by making a careless remark during a microphone check before a speech. Although it was not broadcast, the clip was leaked.
He said with jocularity, "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes." Yuck yuck yuck... as we hear chuckles in the background.

According to Wikipedia, with cited sources, "...the Tokyo newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported in October 1984 that the Soviet Far East Army was placed on alert after word of the statement got out, and that the alert was not withdrawn until 30 minutes later. An unnamed aide to US Representative Michael Barnes (D-Md.) confirmed that the Pentagon was aware of the alert.[3]"

Jerry Harrison of The Talking Heads, Bootsy Collins of Parliament-Funkadelic, and Daniel Lazerus formed a one-off group called Bonzo Goes To Washington (a reference to Ronald Reagan's 1951 film "Bedtime For Bonzo" in which he shared billing with a chimp) to create a biting song only using the sample of Reagan's monumental gaffe which opens the track. Listen to it below.

Frankie are still around, minus vocalist Holly Johnson. They are now fronted by Ryan Molloy, who I must say does sound quite a lot like Johnson.

Harvey Milk Day 2014

Today is Harvey Milk Day, an international day of remembrance and celebration of the life of political pioneer and gay rights activist Harvey Milk (May 22, 1930 – November 27, 1978), organized by The Harvey Milk Foundation.

Harvey Milk, who was known informally as "The Mayor of Castro Street," was the first openly gay candidate elected to political office in California, and the first openly gay man elected to public office in the United States, winning a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. His presence, life, and tragic assassination at the hands of a homophobic murderer (an event that triggered the White Night Riots) changed the texture, pulse, and meaning of life for gay men and women everywhere. Cleve Jones, a friend of Milk's and intern for Milk at the time of his assassination, put it succinctly: "His murder and the response to it made permanent and unquestionable the full participation of gay and lesbian people in the political process." The progress we have made and the continued success of gay rights was certainly helped by Milk and his courage. Anne Kronenberg, his final campaign manager, wrote of him: "What set Harvey apart from you or me was that he was a visionary. He imagined a righteous world inside his head and then he set about to create it for real, for all of us."

And today, Milk was honored with a US postage stamp which was unveiled at the White House in ceremony attended by US ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power and Democratic leader in the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Just finished reading...

...the third installment of Margaret Atwood's Maddaddam Trilogy, called, naturally, MADDADDAM.

After reading ORYX AND CRAKE and THE YEAR OF THE FLOOD (which I reviewed here and here), I was extremely eager to finish up the story with her final book in the series, MADDADDAM. I liked the first two captivating books a lot...

Now, I do want to say before I go further, that I did enjoy MADDADDAM... it is engrossing just like the first two installments. But perhaps there is something about already knowing the lay of the land, so to speak, that takes some of the novelty and astonishment away. Atwood did a spectacular job of creating a complete and total universe in ORYX AND CRAKE and FLOOD--albeit a horrifying world based solely on technology that currently exists. This is why her social and science fiction is so penetrating and successful: because she simply looks at the current position and trajectory of the planet and moves the timeline ahead to a logical outcome. And the outcome is pretty damn scary. She explored this possible world so thoroughly and we followed characters barely surviving it all, and honestly, there was nowhere new to go. In this way, MADDADDAM is not really a stand alone story, it is more of a denouement. ORYX AND CRAKE is Part 1A, and FLOOD is Part 1B since both stories ostensibly take place at the same time, but just from the perspectives of different characters. And MADDADDAM brings all these characters (human survivors and genetically modified creatures) together in the world Atwood created for the wrap-up. All the characters that were leading parallel lives are finally joined. It is very satisfying to get answers to questions, and to be let in on why characters got to be the way they are, or why certain events happened as they did in the first two books. It is all tied together nicely. But there is something about the last few chapters that feels rushed. Bing-bang-boom, a big final event, and then we are done.

But again, I am not complaining, merely describing my feelings. And I will say again that I am not unsatisfied with what Atwood created. There is no other way the story could have gone. And without giving anything away (this is not a direct spoiler), it is nice that the dark universe she created has a bit of hope at the end: creation and the sheer seething tenacity of life cannot be stopped.

Recommend? Yes, if you have read ORYX AND CRAKE and THE YEAR OF THE FLOOD. Otherwise, it won't make any sense to you. If you have read the first two, you have to read MADDADDAM!

Congratulations, Oregon!

Today U.S. District Judge Michael McShane overturned a gay marriage ban in Oregon, and rejected the pathetic attempts of the hateful National Organization for Marriage to interfere with his ruling. While it is possible that McShane's decision may be challenged in court, it is not seen as likely (which is why I have not posted any congratulations for recent states who overturned similar bans because, as usual, bigots stepped in to try to inflict their prejudices on the rest of us).

Another victory for justice, equality, and common sense.


"Looking Too Closely" by Fink

"Looking Too Closely" by Fink.

This is a song about somebody else
So don't worry yourself, worry yourself
Devil's right there, right there in the details
And you don't wanna hurt yourself, hurt yourself
By looking too closely
By looking too closely
No no no no!

Put your arms around somebody else
Don't punish yourself, punish yourself
Truth is like blood underneath your fingernails
And you don't wanna hurt yourself, hurt yourself
Looking too closely
Looking too closely
No no no no!
No no no no!

You don't wanna hurt yourself, hurt yourself
You don't wanna hurt yourself, hurt yourself
No no no no!
No no no no!

I could be wrong about anybody else
So don't kid yourself, kid yourself
It's you right there, right there in the mirror
And you don't wanna hurt yourself, hurt yourself
By looking too closely
By looking too closely

Yeah yeah yeah yeah

Looking too closely
You don't wanna hurt yourself
You don't wanna hurt yourself, hurt yourself
Looking too closely

Sunday, May 18, 2014

BEAUTY: Interior--Helen Green Design

This stunning London home in Belgravia was designed by Helen Green Design. I particularly like the living room with its mix of traditional ideas, modern shapes, luxe finishes, sophisticated yet organic color palette, and an airy open feeling. I also really love the thin black lines of moulding below the crown, above the baseboard, and down the corners of the room, as if describing the shape of the walls and architecture. I am filing this away in my memory to do for a client someday...

Saturday, May 17, 2014

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia 2014

Today is International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. It was created in 2004 to draw the attention of policymakers, opinion leaders, social movements, the public, and the media to the deaths, violence, and discrimination experienced by LGBTI people internationally.

And as the title suggests, this is a world-wide issue now more than ever. With the frightening tone the rest of the world is taking, from Russia's ridiculous, ignorant ban on "gay propaganda," to Nigeria's sick and barbaric anti-gay laws that were put into effect just this year, we need desperately to enlighten the world, and literally save lives. Even if you are not in Africa or Russia, even if you are in an intelligent, progressive area, we still need awareness. It is a ridiculously overused cliché, but the world is changed one person at a time. Be one of those people. You can participate simply by believing that all people have human and civil rights in this existence. Stand for it. Insist on it. Tell others. Tell everyone you can.

This is how the world changes one person at a time.

Friday, May 16, 2014

"Black Wave" and "Waking Light" by Beck

I can't get enough of Beck's gorgeous new release "Morning Phase." It is a captivating mix of folk, soft psychedelic, and orchestral, expressed through introspective gentle ballads and profoundly gripping melodies. Here are two examples of the latter, the haunting "Black Wave" and the achingly lovely "Waking Light." The entire collection of songs is slow, hazy, pensive, perfect to play on a dawning summer morning...

Art vs. Craft

"Art that makes you feel comfortable is likely to be craft, not art."

--Sir Antony Gormley