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Blogger Paddy Johnson is correct that the heavies would not be paying attention to Ellen Altfest's semi-photoreal paintings if she were showing at a 57th Street-style gallery like Fishbach or (the late?) Tatistcheff, instead of the Williamsburg-to-Chelsea transplant Bellwether. Finally made it over to see this "hot still life show," the last day, and did find most of the canvases to be rather dully rendered snapshots of cacti, etc. The best paintings were the ones without clearly delineated subject matter--a log, a lump of driftwood, and above, a piece titled Gourd--bulging with near-Gothic accumulations of detail. The vegetable matter appears far gone in a warty state somewhere between advanced decay and an ergot-induced fever dream (Jim, in the comments, thinks it looks like a peyote button). One hyper-rotted urban interior recalled Chicago visionary Ivan Albright's work. Wish there were more of those. Looks like Altfest spent a lot of time on the work, and since the show is a "hit," expect her to be under a lot of pressure now to speed the heck up. Will she succumb? Hire assistants? Stay tuned for part two: "The Sophomore Show." (Actually this is her sophomore show, whatever.)
Update: Continuing to think about the "peyote button" interpretation. This may be that rarest of instances where an artist took the sow's ear of an inability to convincingly render volume and turned it into a silk purse of ultimate psychedelic credibility.
Jack Abramoff's Dad Defends Masturbation Reference in Son's Name
It's great when Republicans get their boxers in a twist. Below is Frank Abramoff’s "open letter to George Clooney," written after Clooney made fun of Abramoff's crooked lobbyist son Jack on the Golden Globe Awards. Frank is an old Hollywood guy, hence his indignance towards one of the clan, one supposes. It must be tough knowing your son's a degenerate, but talk about misplaced anger. Here's what Sidney Blumenthal recently wrote about Jack: "The graduate of Beverly Hills High School is the son of the president of the franchises division of the Diners Club and close to Ronald Reagan's kitchen cabinet of California millionaires. The father financed young Jack's takeover of the College Republicans. After depleting the treasury of Citizens for America, a conservative group founded by drugstore mogul Lewis Lehrman, [Jack] Abramoff produced a violence-packed, B-grade Cold War movie, 'Red Scorpion.' With the capture of Congress by the Republicans in 1994, he hustled to Washington for the barbecue." Now, here's the Dad's letter to Clooney:
Oh how far Hollywood has fallen. When you rose to accept the Golden Globes best actor award earlier this week, you decided to take a gratuitous slap at my son, my family and even my dear departed father. Is this the tradition of Gable, Bogart, Pacino and Burton? Are you the heir to the dignity and greatness of Hollywood's past, or more likely a portent to a depressing and horrific future?
Your glib and ridiculous attack on my son, Jack, coupled with your obscene query as to the choice his mother and I made in naming him [Clooney alluded to the unfortunate proximity of "Jack" and "off" in the crook's name], brought shame and dishonor on you and your profession. What drove you to this lapse in lucidity, I can never know, but you need to know that your words were deeply hurtful to many innocent and decent people who love my son and who cherish our family.
We have had to endure two years of unmitigated, outrageous falsehood directed at my son and his record of achievement on behalf of his clients and friends. The bloodthirsty media, guilty of untold character assassinations during contemporary times, have even outdone themselves in their lust to create a cartoon which does not come close to resembling this fine man, my son. [Jack Abramoff recently pled guilty to fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials.]
The fact that you would spend those few moments accorded to you, as an honor for your work as an actor, bashing his name and his family, is astonishing. How do you sleep at night, other than perhaps with the drink, which you lamented not having at that early hour. Funny, it was very hard for us little people in television land to tell whether you had indulged in the bottle or not.
My son was named after my beloved departed father. His name, too, was Jack Abramoff. And, were he alive today, would be standing firmly behind his namesake, as his entire family and many more true friends than you will ever know.
Not that it matters to you, I am sure, but the worst part of your tirade is that it played out in front of many young people, including my sweet 12-year-old granddaughter, one of Jack's five children. Jack did not waste his time watching the garbage spewing from your mouth, but his daughter did. You drove her to a fit of tears. Are you proud of that?
For four generations, our family has worked hard to serve this country we love. I enlisted as a young man of seventeen into the United States Navy, so I could serve my nation in WWII. My brother did the same, and we both served in South Pacific. My son dedicated his life to patriotic and religious causes, which have made this nation great. He gave unsparingly of his time and resources to help those in need.
You spend your days ridiculing our nation and our traditions. You mock those who serve our nation and its flag. You revile my son and publicly try to humiliate him in front of a national audience. I have news for you George Clooney — one day the truth about my son will come out [What, that his guilty plea was coerced?] and there will be a lot of people in your industry and others lined up to apologize for their efforts to destroy him and our family. You won't be in that line, though, because the plague of arrogance and falsehood will surely continue to blind your eyes and cause your tongue to disgrace the parents who brought you onto the earth.
One wonders how your father would respond, were the roles reversed. One wonders whether your children would delight in someone lampooning your name and besmirching your reputation. You have brought yourself to a low unparalleled by the greats of your profession. Shame on you.
No, shame on you, Frank. And hail George Clooney! The Republicans are trying to bury Jack Abramoff's name, because his criminal plea revealed how unspeakably corrupt their party is--and there was Clooney putting it in the public eye in a very funny way. I thought it was so cool I went to see Syriana the next day.
A lot of the (sucky) music you hear today in movies, TV, and advertising is made with software synths and samplers. Sucky not because it's made with virtually but because it's made for business people, who want everything bland (except for the triphop between Adult Swim cartoons--that's good). Nowadays your average PC can imitate any synth and even convincingly reproduce symphonic instruments. 20 years ago a softsynth cost $50,000 and looked like....this.
From a website devoted to the now defunct German company PPG Instruments:
The Realizer may well have been the world's first virtual instrument, yet ironically some feel the stress of its development put PPG out of business. It was the last PPG product, and never got beyond the prototype stage. Still, its features were staggering, even by today's standards. (Check out the photo above to see it emulating a Minimoog.)Hat tip to G.K. Wicker, whose links also led to the images below, of the Space Invaders-style interface to the famous hexagonal Simmons drum kit. (Another defunct company.) Check out the little guy drumming, enlarged in the detail .
From the September 1986 issue of Keyboard Magazine, Dave Frederick wrote an article on the 1986 summer NAMM show stating:
"An impressive exhibit from PPG was the Realizer (about $50,000). This consists of software versions of familiar synthesizer configurations. It allows you to design your own analog, FM digital, and sampled sounds, patch any of the components of one instrument into another instrument, and then sequence or sample the resulting sound. Wolfgang Palm, designer of the Realizer and head of PPG Instruments, earns the the quote-of-the-show award for explaining how he designed it: 'I copied the circuit diagrams into software.' No easy task."
The picture above shows the Realizer control unit only. In addition to it were racks that contained the actual processing hardware.
"Fear and Tremolo" [mp3 removed]. The same instruments as "Drum Machine" (audio and video), but with a different tune, and a grittier, more industrial texture via the AdrenaLinn II "synchro-trem" beat modulated filter setting.
"Drum Machine (Audio Only)" [mp3 removed].
2005 Internet Top Ten: Special Blogosphere Edition.
Originally posted on Michael Bell-Smith's and Cory Arcangel's Year in the Internet 2005 page. Already started revising it (see below).
SCREENFULL. This blog is now an archived project but what a great run it had. Audiovisual graffiti, deconstruction as Xtreme Sports, internet addiction as a generative principle.
RIP del.ico.us? 2005 saw this link community's rapid rise to stardom and immediate fall into the sweaty embrace of Yahoo! Will the art/geek spirit survive?
Represent or die. Lots of great quirky and f-ed up videos: the flagship del.icio.us channel (for DTV) hopefully will not be turned by Yahoo! into internet MTV, with Quicktime clips of reality shows and beach contests.
Paper Rad Info. Their blog. Prediction: because it's very easy to update it could eclipse their main page. Mine sort of did.
jenghizkhan (John Parker) live at The Front Room. Not a blog; just wanted to mention it. Sub-Troggs, Sub-Stooges fuzzbox-grungy Monomachine and circuit-bent Casio performance clocks in at 33 minutes; chatty audience tries to see if it can make more noise.
Steve Gilliard: the most razor-tongued sunny optimist on the Net. Indispensable political commentary.
WFMU's Beware of the Blog. NY area cult radio station's in-depth music (and everything else) coverage thrives in blog form. One of my favorite past FMU djs returns with a fine conversational blog style: Rise, William Berger, rise.
Rhizome.org. Another welcome addition to the (re)blog world--hopefully they'll start archiving front page content and add comments in the new year.
Other great blogs that have launched or gone into high gear in the last year: Cory Arcangel, Paul Slocum, Michael Bell-Smith.
Flag on the Moon. Blog of Jack Masters, of castlezzt fame. The post specifically linked to, "1/30th of my pictures directory, in chronological order," has been