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Posting has been a bit sluggish as I move the music production up another level with the acquisition of a laptop (no!) and MOTU audio interface. Thanks to all who have been listening. With the second PC I will be able to record multitrack in real time with a couple of outboard instruments (at least in theory). I've had the capability to do it with one computer, but with my CPU maxing out on the production end, I want to try recording elsewhere. I ruled out a hardware multitrack recorder in favor of doing as much as possible in the computer. I don't really need the outboard gear but the Sidstation adds a definite crackly aura and I've been hankering to play around with an analog drum machine.
I'm also having to contend for the first time with "mouse arm." I went through a couple of rounds of RSI from typing and drawing and thought I had it licked, but the music introduces a whole new set of muscles to fuck up. Fortunately I'm ambidextrous when it comes to clicking little squares so I can spread the stress around. It was turning the virtual knobs that was getting me--I'm too lazy and/or impulsive to permanently assign controllers to real knobs. Sorry for the medical report but I offer it as a word of caution to computer-using musicians who haven't come up against this. Take breaks, stretch, switch arms.
current mood: awake
current music: ectomorph, first ep; morton subotnick, touch; plaid, "chirpy"; sun ra, it's after the end of the world ("don't you know that yet?"); schlammpeitziger spacerokkmountainrutschquartier; ebe, "the drifting"; antonelli electr, "anti-establishment"; aux 88, electroboogie; nitzer ebb," join in the chant"; paul mccartney ram (don't laugh, there's some great brian wilsonian songs here, and besides, i'm studying multitracking). more as i remember what i've been playing.
more on mccartney: forget the pretentious john, sir paul is the best beatle. a melody machine, and so understated and intuitive in his intellect compared to mr. i'm a sodding artist. "mother nature's child"--brilliant and banal, hemingwayesque in its denial of crisis, proto-jeff koons; it's pure songstery joy with all those do do doos and wa wa waas but how could it possibly be on the level? according to mccartney's autobiography a few years back, he was the one experimenting with tape loops, introducing them on "tomorrow never knows" and pushing forward with sonic experimentation in "revolution 9." i believe it! there's a long passage in the book where he describes watching richard hamilton assemble the photos for the white album poster, the curiosity about and reverence for visual art there is palpable. and the brian wilson friendship/rivalry is fascinating--talent knows talent. sir paul, yeah! enough with the john john john all the time.
Granola, 1996-7, photocopies collaged on unfolded granola boxes, approx. 60" x 40". Scan of polaroid. Stuff keeps turning up that I never showed, but still get all nostalgic about. Whether I actually consumed this cereal will remain a mystery. Also tagged with (mostly) molecular imagery and unshown are a saltine box, packaging for Folger's "coffee teabags" (a brilliant idea), and a cardboard sleeve for shower curtain rings.
Future rant: a walk through this selection of Net art at the Whitney from a couple of Biennials back, which was just impossible to interact with, or to want to interact with, in a museum environment, versus this great page Olia Lialina alerted me to a short while ago, which would have been tons of fun in a museum if properly presented and would have given Net Art a good name, as opposed to an invitation not to come back for future Biennials. Olia explains about the piece: "in 2003 my students were celebrating 10 years of the WWW. One of the objects was made of found bullets." Bullets, yes! Just f*cking bullets. No page-long back story, no navigation nightmares, no frozen screens (well, maybe the last). Student work or no, it's a bang-on elegant piece, continuing the Schwitters tradition of making art out of pop trash, in contrast to the Mondrianic mien of hermetically sealed art perfection. One could envision this projected really large, and with something other than a mouse, say a foot switch or button on a podium, that could steer you around the web ring of bullet patterns. People would be standing around ooh-ing and aah-ing as each new magnificent phalanx of back buttons loomed before their eyes, instead of disgustedly walking away from the workstation ghetto with a terminal case of knotted up shoulder muscles.
Paintings by Stephen Bush, from Melbourne, in an upcoming show at Goff + Rosenthal in NYC. Can't vouch for these in person because I haven't seen them yet but the jpegs are pretty dynamic. Like a more serious Martin Kippenberger, who also painted on top of those smeary, Helen Frankenthaler-by-way-of-the-carnival-booth abstractions. The post-industrial, Little House on the Prairie on Mars theme (at least in the top three) is intriguing, and you have to give props to any artist willing to stake an entire exhibit on pink and green.
As with all his best work, Roman Polanski's Oliver Twist sweeps you along from the first frame and keeps you surprised, even by a story you know well. Oliver isn't an actor, he's a reactor--everyone wants something from him, though it's clear he has little to offer besides a look of holy innocence. His single act of volition is walking 70 miles to London after fleeing his master, the rest of the movie consists of him making right or wrong choices based on circumstances framed by the rest of the cast. The desires of others propel the story.
An undertow of sorrow builds throughout the film that you are barely aware of until it crescendos in the final scene, when Fagin breaks down into shocking, gibbering cries on the eve of his hanging. Ben Kingsley plays him soulfully, as a grotesque monster and coward but ultimately just as much a victim of grinding circumstance as the boy he mentors and pities. All the shadings of humor turning into horror and back again that have been in Polanski's work since Fearless Vampire Killers are here. (Bill Sykes' partner in crime is notably strange.) Superb.
In case you haven't seen the love letter Scooter ("Biff") Libby wrote to Judith ("Queen of All Iraq") Miller, here's the last paragraph. The typographical equivalent of vomiting will follow. Here's what one mass killler (and published novelist) says to another mass killer (with a book deal):
You went to jail in the summer. It is fall now. You have stories to cover--Iraqi elections and suicide bombers, biological threats and the Iranian nuclear program. Out West, where you vacation, the aspens will be turning. They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them. Come back to work--and life. Until then, you will remain in my thoughts and prayers. With admiration, Scooter Libby.This is childish, but bleeeeaaaaagggghhhhh. Wasn't Saddam Hussein also supposed to be some kind of novelist? Here's hoping Biff goes to the Big House, just for writing that paragraph. Jane Hamsher, posting on Digby's blog, has more on what sort of coded info was being communicated in the non-mash-note part of the letter. Haven't been following the Plamegate minutiae to this extent, but it's pretty clear that navigating the twists and turns of the investigation is how we're processing the terrible crime of the Iraq war, because the Democrats are too complicit to have a real debate about it. The aspens can't turn soon enough for me.
This photo cartoon, from Gawker by way of Forward Retreat, depicts an actual event. The big boat is re-enacting an artwork that was never enacted, Robert Smithson's "Floating Island," while the little boat tugs a Christo orange gate--a cheeky student project. Didn't see the actual tree-barge, just the photos, and while it looks entertaining, should it really have Smithson's name attached to it? If the artist were alive, he might well have moved on from this kind of eco-showmanship. Who the hell knows? It's a bit like August Derleth writing novels in the style of H. P. Lovecraft, tres postmodern but perhaps an empty exercise. The theme of disembodied, portable nature arguably achieved its apotheosis in the movie Silent Running, made in '71 (with a fantastic folk-modern score by Peter Schickele, that helped set the mood). Recalling (anticipating?) not-Smithson's tugboat, Bruce Dern's spaceship the Valley Forge contains the last remaining earth forests, floating in sealed domes out near Saturn. The shitty earthlings, who live on food substitutes and remarkably still seem to have an atmosphere despite the absence of plant life, order Dern to "blow the domes" with nuclear explosives.