Friday, September 30, 2016

BEAUTY: Installation--Elmgreen & Dragset

Scandinavian artist duo Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset installed Van Gogh's Ear at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan this year from April to August 2016. This 30-foot high ear-shaped pool on its side graced the Fifth Avenue entrance to the Channel Gardens. The Rockefeller Center website remarks, "By repositioning a pool in an unlikely place like the prominent Rockefeller Plaza, right at Fifth Avenue, the artists achieve a simple displacement of the kind for which they are well known, challenging our associations and expectations of a particular setting. The pool—re-positioned into the surroundings of urban life, tourists, skyscrapers, and businesses—seems like a foreign object that has somehow landed there in the plaza. The sculptural qualities of the object itself, from the curves created by different depths and the overall shape of the pool, to the protruding diving board, become apparent when it is singularly presented in this upright position, rather than dug down into the ground. Like Elmgreen & Dragset’s previous projects such as Prada Marfa (a Prada store located in the middle of the Texan desert), the swimming pool creates a feeling of alienation, and brings attention to its context by its very otherness."

It's a fun installation but I find their "Past Tomorrow" installation so much more compelling. Its immersive quality is cinematic and engages on a level far deeper than most art the video to find out.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Currently listening to...

...the sublime, otherworldly "The Heart Knows Better" by genius singer-songwriter-composer David Sylvian. This live version was recorded in concert in Tokyo in 2004.

"Oh, but nothing really matters in the end
And if everything still matters, what then?"

I don't know how long
She's been here with me
But it's been a long time coming

Make it last forever
Make it last forever
Yes, it's been a long time coming

There's a name for this one
There's a name for that
Call me by my true name
I'll call you back
But I've no intention of seeking you out

And the mind's divisive
But the heart knows better-ha

And every night is wedding night in my bed
My eyes are closed but I can see
The sky stretched overhead
The mattress on the floor
A sea of faces at my door
And every night is wedding night and I'm set

And the mind's divisive
But the heart knows better-ha

When she whispered in my ear
What did she say?
She put her hand hard on my chest
What did she say?
Oh, but nothing really matters in the end
And if everything still matters, what then?

And the air is humid and my face is wet
And the driver's much too drunk to see
But she's sitting in my place
Devastating beauty in my place
And I'm absent from the place I ought to be

And the mind's divisive
But the heart knows better-ha

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

BEAUTY: Photography--Alex Prager

Filmmaker and fine art photographer Alex Prager shot a video (with accompanying stills) for Nordstrom's Fall 2016 campaign. Prager's usual style is in full force here with crystal clear images of crowds full of, um, unique people.

“Our lives are moving so fast--at lightning speed--and in particular, our industry, dictated by the internet, social media and this constant urge for newness all the time, has embraced sayings like 'see now, buy now, wear now,'" said Olivia Kim, vice president of creative projects at Nordstrom, Seattle. "We forget how to enjoy the moment we’re in, appreciate where we’re standing, or even remember to look up and see the sky," she said.

I love the hyper-real, dream-like sense of the video itself which seems to slow down and highlight individual moments where fate seems to intervene and bring us a new experience, a new person, a new place, or a new perspective of ourselves.

"In partnership with world-recognized artist Alex Prager, we wanted to capture and recognize that moment," Ms. Kim said. "Using modes of transportation as a metaphor of speed, and as the literal representation of how we get from here to there, the fall 2016 brand campaign also emphasizes that within a crowd, there are countless individual stories and unique experiences, that are all worth recognizing."

Monday, September 26, 2016

"Blue Monday" by Orkestra Obsolete

It's Monday and I thought I'd share this marvelous cover of New Order's "Blue Monday" by Orkestra Obsolete. The idea is to play the song using only instruments available in the 1930s. What starts out as a novelty actually turns into quite an interesting device...

And if you aren't familiar with it, here is the original version released in 1983. Believe it or not, this song was a real game changer in the musical landscape at the time. "Blue Monday" was described by the BBC Radio 2 "Sold on Song" feature thus: "The track is widely regarded as a crucial link between Seventies disco and the dance/house boom that took off at the end of the Eighties." According to New Order bandmember Bernard Sumner, "Blue Monday" was influenced by four songs: the arrangement came from "Dirty Talk", by Klein + M.B.O.; the signature bassline with octaves came from Sylvester's disco classic, "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)"; the beat came from "Our Love", by Donna Summer; and the long keyboard pad on the intro and outro was sampled from the Kraftwerk song "Uranium", from the "Radio-Activity" album. It combined all of these elements with the coldness of what was then being called New Wave, and the darkness found in the music of Joy Division, the previous post-punk incarnation of New Order. This is what gave the song its uniqueness and its "I've-not-heard-anything-like-this-before" quality.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

"Watching films releases 'natural painkiller'"

Watching films releases 'natural painkiller'
By Helen Briggs
BBC News

21 September 2016

Watching a tear jerking film helps in social bonding, say researchers.

The finding could explain our attraction to dramatic works of fiction - even if they make us cry.

Experiments by an Oxford University team suggest tragic films and other dramatic works trigger a rush of feel-good chemicals known as endorphins.

This acts as a natural painkiller and helps us bond with the people around us, they report in the Royal Society journal Open Science.

The human fascination with story telling was forged in ancient times when we began to live in hunter gatherer communities, said Prof Robin Dunbar, who led the research.

Enjoying fiction is a hallmark of human society, but until now scientists have not investigated its evolutionary basis.

"Fiction is widely studied by humanities academics as it is an important feature of human society, common to all cultures," said Robin Dunbar, professor of evolutionary psychology at Oxford University.

"Yet the reasons why fiction can be so engrossing and the functions for this have not been widely studied by psychologists or behavioural biologists.

"There are good social reasons: folklore enables us to pass on wisdom or ingrain community values, bringing us together. While that is important, it does not fully explain why we are willing to return again and again to be entertained."

Chemical clues

An Oxford team of scientists, psychologists and classicists decided to test whether drama triggers the release of endorphins - chemicals that act in the brain to dull pain.

They showed volunteers the film Stuart: A Life Backwards, the dramatised story of a homeless man with a troubled childhood.

A second group watched documentaries about neutral subjects.

The team tested changes in pain threshold before and after viewing the films as a measure for endorphin release using the wall-sit test.

This is where someone rests their back against the wall as if they were sitting on a chair and holds it for as long as possible.

"Those who had the greatest emotional response also had the greatest increase in pain threshold and the greater their sense of being bonded with their group," said Prof Dunbar.

He thinks our affinity for emotive fiction may have evolved in the context of cohesion of social groups, as the endorphin effect has also been seen in comedy, singing and dancing.

"This is not to say that this one chemical effect alone is the only reason for dramatic fiction - there are other aspects of human psychology at work - but we believe that it is an important reason for our enjoyment of fiction," he added.

Natural painkiller

The research was an unusual collaboration of researchers from the fields of arts and science.

Dr Sophie Duncan, a Shakespeare scholar, said they wanted to understand how and why fiction works and the meaning of "getting lost in a book".

The study shows "you can give yourself an endorphin high through fiction", she said.

"Watching tragic drama is good for you - it's good for our health," she told BBC News.

"It boosts endorphins which are our body's natural painkiller."

Link to original article:

Friday, September 23, 2016


Funny. But true.

Save the day: as in "mark that day on your calendar because you will have something important to do," but also as in "rescue something before it is destroyed."

Help to rescue us all from a megalomaniacal, lying, thieving, swindling, bigoted, ruthless, brutal, oppressive, petulant, sociopathic, greedy, callous, con man. Please vote.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Happy Autumnal Equinox 2016

Today is the official start of autumn, when our planet begins to tilt the other direction, tipping the northern hemisphere away from the sun. The days grow shorter, nights grow longer, as we move indoors and into ourselves for hibernation and introspection. Autumn is a time of harvest as the earth moves into hibernation as well. It is a beautiful time, a spiritual transition, a doorway between summer and winter.


(And for my friends Down Under, Happy Spring!)

Happy Birthday, "Oh, By The Way!" 2016

Congratulations "Oh, By The Way," you are seven years old today!

Seven years ago, I had a dream in which I started a blog called “Oh, By The Way.” When I woke up that morning, I went to the computer and promptly started a blog called “Oh, By The Way.” Seriously--it was the first thing I did that morning, and yes, I often act out in waking life things I have dreamt.

"Oh, By The Way" is my digital scrap book of things I like, things I would share with a close friend and say: “Oh, by the way, do you know of this artist/ clothing or interior designer/ model/ singer/ actor/ gorgeous man… or, have you seen this video/ photo/ film... or heard (or do you remember) this song/ band... or, read this book/ poem/ inspiring quote... or, visited this place/ restaurant/ famous building... or, have you heard of this amazing new scientific discovery?”

And what have people responded to the most over the last seven years? Here are the Top Ten posts ranked by individual pageviews:
1) A post about Nick Wooster earned 60,367 pageviews
2) My essay about Kate Bush's phenomenal "The Ninth Wave" comes in at a whopping 15,401 pageviews (This post also has the distinction of receiving the most reader comments!)
3) The handsome Aaron Taylor Johnson was the subject of a post in 2012 that comes in at 14,922 pageviews
4) Visitors enjoyed seeing a shirtless Jared Leto in a double wrap belt to the tune of 10,123 pageviews
5) Silver-haired male model Andy Lucchesi was ogled 7,191 times...
6) ...and those who appreciate mature men with silver hair visited my "Silver Is In" page 7,120 times
7) A page featuring Sylvia Ji's artwork inspired by the Mexican Día de los Muertos festival racked up 6,921 pageviews
8) Oddly, a whimsical page about cookies (Lorna Doone, Ladyfinger, Madeleine) was seen 6,825 times
9) A post about holiday wreaths made out of old glass ornaments came up with 6,740 pageviews
10) And finally, a post about the Vatican Fashion Show segment from Fellini's amazing "Roma" film got 6,698 pageviews
Who knew?

Followers and regular readers: thank you so much! I hope you find this blog fascinating, beautiful, interesting, moving, inspiring, informative, and uplifting. Welcome to the birthday party. I'm serving several virtual dessert choices this year: lavender ice cream...

...Meyer lemon meringue tarts...

...or chocolate soufflé. Please allow up to 30 minutes for the soufflé...get your order in early. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Currently watching...

..."Better Things" on FX.

Created by series star Pamela Adlon and Louis C.K., "Better Things" feels like an extension of C.K.'s marvelous FX show, "Louie"--in fact, Adlon was a series regular on "Louie." They both share the same awkward, sometimes bizarre, engrossing-yet-anxious style of comedy, and they both feature stories, scripts, and performances that are at once comedy, black comedy, and poignant, penetrating moments of reality. It's a hard balancing act and C.K. achieved it brilliantly on his own show, and the pair do it here effortlessly. There have only been two shows broadcast so far, and one can feel the quality and import in every second. Although the show is rooted in a "situation" and comes in a thirty-minute format, it feels light years away from a typical "situation comedy."

Adlon is Sam Fox, a divorced mother of three girls and a struggling actress who was once, apparently, a child/teen star. Her life in Los Angeles is fraught with all the same things the rest of us suffer, but she must wade through the ignominies of the entertainment industry as well (and I can say that from experience, having waded--and continue to wade--through the business myself, a little worse for the wear). The rest of the cast, especially the young girls, seem extremely capable and talented, but it's Adlon's show. And she is marvelous. Funny yes, but also so touching and tender.

Recommend? YES! Especially if you liked "Louie"--hurry and catch the third episode!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

A Faun In A Lap

That is all.

As you were.

Friday, September 16, 2016

BEAUTY: Painting--Elly Smallwood

Elly Smallwood's engaging, dynamic, large scale portraits are full of color and gestures that render them near-abstract. What's fascinating is how she zeroes in on a part of the face like the nose and lips or just eyes, creating a kind of creepy hyper-attention to a detail to which we normally do not pay such close attention.

Top to bottom: Alistair II; Head Study (Mike); In The Forest; Portrait In Pink And Black; Self Portrait (With Palette); Untitled In Umber; Untitled (Portrait Of My Father)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Secret In The Mirror by Albert Rios

The Secret In The Mirror
by Alberto Rios

The mirror is dirty from the detritus of dailiness—
I look in the mirror and am freckled.

A week out from being cleaned, maybe two, maybe more,
The Milky Way shows itself in the secret silver,

This star chart in my own bathroom,
Aglow not in darkness but with the lights on,

Everything suddenly so clear.
It is not smear I am looking at, but galaxies.

It is not toothpaste and water spots—
When I look in the mirror, it is writing and numbers,

Musical notes, 1s and 0s, Morse-like codes, runes.
I am looking over into the other side,

And over there, whoever they are, it turns out
They look a lot like me. Like me, but freckled.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

CATS in The Tube

The daily onslaught of advertising and intrusive imagery in our current society can be overwhelming so to combat that, a group calling themselves Citizens Advertising Takeover Service (or CATS) under the auspices of Glimpse purchased 68 advertising sections of wall space at the Clapham Common subway station in London. And now this Tube station has been taken over by cats: sweetly, many of the felines for this respite from visual pollution are stray cats from two rescue charities, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, and Cats Protection. CATS have brought attention to the worthwhile cause of animal adoption but their ultimate goal on a much larger platform is to bring about general social change via creative campaigns. I say "Well done, CATS!"

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Happy Birthday, Yma Sumac!

Today would have been Yma Sumac's 94th birthday (if one is to believe varying accounts of her birth). Hailing from Peru, with the claim of being an Incan princess related to Atahualpa (the last sovereign emperor of the Inca Empire), Sumac moved to America in the 1940s and became a singing sensation in the world of "Exotica" music, a genre named after the 1957 Martin Denny album of the same title, popular during the 1950s to mid-1960s. Sumac possessed an impressive five-octave vocal range, able to sing as a low baritone or as a soprano. There was a great "lounge music" resurgence in the late 80's and early 90s, and along with it, a revival of Exotica, which is where I found her...

Happy birthday, Yma!

Thursday, September 8, 2016


"Well...that's not supposed to do that!"

GIFs by Nicolas Monterrat aka Un GIF Dans Ta Geuele