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Bloggy and Travelers Diagram both mention a Herbert Muschamp article in the NY Times about the Ellsworth Kelly "proposal" for the World Trade Center site: a simple collage with a solid green trapezoid pasted over a photo of the site, connoting green space. Of course nothing of the kind will ever be seen in the real world, but the Whitney has acquired the collage and is treating it like a major statement (it is a nice piece). Muschamp's support makes me roll my eyes, though. Here's a comment I wrote on bloggy's page:
Absolutely, a large greenspace would have been the most poignant and elegant solution. As if! (Land values must be utilized! Investments recouped!) Muschamp is getting all mushy about minimalism here but let's not forget he's a prime exponent of delirious maximalism, as embodied in the work of Rem Koolhaas and the execrable Frank Gehry. The Kelly tribute is more than a little disingenuous considering Muschamp's role in promoting "more is more."What happened was, two years late for the collage to be considered as a serious proposal, Kelly sent it to Muschamp in a Fed Ex box as a ...gift? (Not sure exactly). Muschamp writes himself into the story as the noble fellow who felt the design too profound and important to keep and who arranged for its acquisition by the Whitney. Then he pens a tribute that seems both untimely (where was all that research on burial mounds two years ago?) and patronizing (since Muschamp supported the rather busier designs of both WTC finalists at one time or another). Perhaps after Muschamp's embarrassing flipflop on the Libeskind proposal, this is his way of just not thinking about the whole thing.
Eric Fensler "remixes" GI Joe cartoons from the mid-'80s to make hilarious Quicktime movies. Using overdubbed sounds and cretinous adlibs, he turns the bland, conventional narratives of the cartoons into little spasms of dadaist nonsense. Part of the kick is the brevity; the clips are under 30 seconds and after some bit of barely comprehensible business, each ends with the same lame sample of studio vocalists singing "GI Joe!" Spliced-in street talk subverts the original cartoons' icky Hollywood multiculturalism (employed in the service of selling war toys). The cut and paste style and mock-ghetto ambience recalls the clip art ferocity of David Rees' Get Your War On, except this is much weirder. A Fensler interview with more GI Joes is here. (hat tip to Brian Turner)
|Kids fry for no reason. (Click on images to load Quicktime movies.)|
|A surprise serenade leads to cross cultural understanding. (Caption on bottle: "Adult dosage.")|
|A Native American interrupts an argument.|
My uncle Roy Pickard is a model railroader, and by models we're not talking the ones on tabletops but a working 1/8 scale system consisting of over two miles of track, switches, bridges, trestles, and signage. The tracks are 7 1/2 inches wide, and the gasoline powered trains (replicas of actual steam and diesel engines) move people and cargo. Twice a year railroad enthusiasts descend on his property, tucked away in the central Texas ranchland west of President Bush's photo-op farm, and conduct "meets." At these weeklong gatherings, a couple of dozen trains (as many as 28) operate on the track at once, in carefully timed simulations of a full-scale operating railroad. Engineers communicate by radio and dispatchers monitor the movements of all trains; the idea is to move cargo, avoid collisions, and keep trains evenly distributed around the track. Anyone who screws up is roasted in a mock trial at the end of day's operations.
I took the top four pictures while walking the entire line (the original "Comanche & Indian Gap" plus newer sections of track--see map below). Roy gave me the photo of the two men riding trains, attendees at a meet last year. Roy has been working on the railroad since 1973, and in its intriguing combination of scrupulous realism and fanatic worldbuilding, it makes me think of some enormous conceptual art project, along the lines of William Christenberry's facsimiles of Alabama architecture, Michael Ashkin's and Chris Burden's industrial miniatures, Duchamp's rustic diorama, Smithson's earthworks... I could make a philosophical comment about the shrinkage to Lilliputian scale of the domain of the great 19th Century robber barons, but the more interesting story is the preservationist instinct in the face of rail's increasing mechanization and depersonalization. Besides taking a back seat to less fuel efficient means of transportation (evil trucks, nasty jets), trains in the U.S. are suffering the ultimate indignity of losing their romance. (More pics still to come.)
(Scan of map from Model Railroader magazine, July 1997, pp. 76-77. Thanks to Roy and Marilyn Pickard for all the information and hospitality.)
9/7/03. I saw this girl in Dallas, having lunch at the Z cafe on Henderson with a bunch of alternative looking 20somethings. She was wearing some kind of taffeta party dress and heels with a jean jacket or some other casual top. I didn't draw her in situ but from memory the next day, sitting in the Houston airport. Is it possible for clothing to be stupid and sexy at the same time?
9/8/03. Two-hour layover at the Atlanta airport. A nightmare.
What is with the Democrats and all this "now we're in Iraq we have to pour it on and win the war" crap? First Dean did a 180, and as I was sitting in the airport listening to mandatory CNN I heard Carol Moseley Braun on Crossfire spouting the same nonsense. How about supporting the troops by airlifting them out?
How about 87 billion for schools?
I've returned from my Texas trip. Highlights include watching herons, gulls, and turnstones on the beach on Padre Island; seeing my uncle Roy's amazing 1/8 scale model steam railroad, comprised of over two miles of track, switches, bridges, trestles, and turntables winding through his ranch property in central Texas (pictures to follow); visiting Scott Barber's exhibition at Barry Whistler Gallery (during pre-opening installation) and John Pomara's studio in Dallas; meeting writer Frederick Turner at an otherwise weird University of Texas at Dallas soiree in the redeveloped Sears Building south of downtown; seeing long-lost family and friends.
More self-indulgent vacation pics. Padre Island National Seashore
Padre Island National Seashore (facing east). Brought to you by
Mazda Protegé TM. Escape today in a Mazda.