October 1, 2005
These are pictures of my family's house in Lufkin. It took a pretty good hit with Rita. Almost more shocking to me than the damage to the house was the fact that a giant Magnolia tree out in the yard was uprooted. I planted that tree and watched it grow from a small thing to a 60 foot high beauty. I thought it would just always be there.
October 1, 2005
One of the most fascinating things about being a first time parent is watching things click in your kid's head. One day they they are trying to eat the pages of the book... then one day they start turning pages... then pointing out people and animals in pictures... and then, finally, sitting quietly and turning all the pages and going back to the beginning to see everything again.
October 3, 2005
1. Before 1847 the word gorilla does not appear in the English language.
2. Most mammals regardless of size have about a billion heartbeats in a lifetime.
3. Left unsupervised I can scarf down an entire package of gingermen cookies.
October 6, 2005
The Death of Mr. Lazarescu
The audience seemed stunned by the bleakness of this Romanian film about a dying man being shuttled from hospital to hospital in a nightmare of red tape. I was less distressed than most and found the film funny and occasionally brilliant but I heard lots of grumbling as we walked out the door. This one's not for everyone.
The Squid and the Whale
It opens this weekend. Just go see it, you won't be sad.
The President’s Last Bang
Probably the best film I saw at the festival. The Dr. Stranglelove comparison in the film festival's official blurb is apt. Finding deep comedy in assassination of Korean president Park Chung-hee the filmmaker pulls viewers through a roller coaster of a movie with a self confident wit that kept me hooked throughout. I hope it is released in the states so I can see it again.
I'm a big fan of Hou Hsia-hsien. This film featuring 3 short stories about love is brimming with cinematic grace. Each of the stories is told quietly almost wordlessly. They each start slowly and work up to subtle moments where profound emotion is telegraphed with the slightest of gestures, but ultimately the 3 stories (all set in different eras but featuring the same 2 leads) didn't add up to much. Still if you are in right mood just turn off the left brain and let it all wash over you.
Something Like Happiness
What is it about Eastern Europeans making films that leave you feeling utterly depressed? Is crushing the soul their idea of a good time? Is life in the Czech Republic really so grim? I'm sure this is a wonderful film but after the ended all I could think about was having a stiff vodka tonic.
Who’s Camus Anyway?
This Altmanesque Japanese comedy did something I don't think I've ever seen done properly on film-it captured the feel and texture of college life without descending into camp. Part of secret was that the actors were actually college aged (and not 25 year olds), part of it was that the kids always seemed to be running everywhere, and part of it was the messy web of relationships spun by director Mitsuo Yanagimachi. This film sort of ran out of steam in the end, but I enjoyed the ride. My only major criticism--muddy camerawork.
Tale of Cinema
I didn't see this film but Jenn did and she loved it. We became big Hong Sang-soo fans after seeing some of his films in LA. Jenn calls Hong Sang-soo the first Korean auteur and I don't think it's just ethnic pride talking. This guy is good.
October 8, 2005
I am headed to bed, but before nodding off I thought I would fill my head with a bit of Neruda, actually picking up a book, instead of scanning the usual internet dreck. I always say I don't understand poetry (and secretly think most of it is unreadable), but Neruda's words always wash over me and make me feel the beauty and sadness of the world all balled up together with impossible grace. His poetry also reminds me of my courtship with Jenn and that long hot summer when we first met... he was always my secret weapon...
Anyway, a bit of Neruda is a nice way woo someone... and if you've found that someone, it's a nice way ease yourself into dreamland. Goodnight all.
October 8, 2005
October 11, 2005
Somehow it is almost 2am again. Try though I might I never seem to be able to get to bed before 3. It has been this way for a very long time. As a kid I would play possum until my parents were safely downstairs, construct a decoy with pillows and read under the bed with a flashlight. Later it was Letterman back in his first seasons. I would watch on a small black and white television set with the volume very very low and stifling my laughs with a pillow, later still I would sneak down to my Apple //e clicking away and connecting to far away BBSes. And there was one of the great joys of my adolescence: the late night listen to the full album (while wearing big headphones of course) in a darkened room. Long evening phone calls with girls came around junior year in high school and made me forget music and computers and everything else for a while...
In college, well it was college... and nobody ever sleeps. I tried to never schedule classes before 11 in the morning to compensate.
Then in those giddy first years in NY it was Elsie's Oke Doke Pub, a speakeasy run by the 80 year old Elsie Rene-an anachronistic little bar where the most recent song on the jukebox was 30 years old. Elsie often wouldn't open her doors until midnight and even then the place wouldn't get going until 2 or 3 (the truth is the doors were never open, she only let you in if she knew you). We would sit at the bar together sipping Jagermeisters ("It's medicinal," she would say, "full of herbs. Sip it.") as she told me stories of New York in the 30's and 40's. The entire geography of her life was contained in just a few blocks of Yorkville and after a few drinks she would always launch into tales too tall to be fiction. I would stop by virtually every night and eventually my picture hung on the wall. One of my great disappointments on moving back to the city last year was walking up 84 street and finding the place shuttered and dark.
Now of course there is a baby who fills so much of the day that many of the things I should be doing do get pushed until he is asleep and the house is quiet. It is very quiet now. I should get back to work.
October 11, 2005
My flickr favorites. Good stuff in there.
October 12, 2005
It's pouring rain here in NY.
At about 4:00 I was in a cab in lower Manhattan.
The scene: A wall street guy is jaywalking through the slowly moving traffic. He runs from behind a bus in front of a cab and almost gets hit. Totally his fault, but he stops in the middle of the road, flips off the driver and starts cursing at the top of his lungs... The driver silently takes it but steams. My driver is also upset at the injustice of it all. Eventually the man cools down moves on and up the street.
Traffic clears a bit and the cab in question spots a large deep puddle, speeds up, and manages to plant the entire contents on the wall street guy.... a large arcing wave of muddy water... Now the man is literally hopping mad. Indeed he is jumping up and down in an apoplectic rage. My own driver looks back at me, gives me a little smile, and hits the gas giving the guy a second dousing. He chuckles to himself all the way over the Brooklyn Bridge.
Ahhh. New York. Gotta love it.
October 13, 2005
One of my favorite photoblogs, Myopic.us has been full of compelling images lately... If you're not already a fan, click over there.
October 14, 2005
October 14, 2005
October 14, 2005
especially when this is on the ipod.
October 15, 2005
The third act of last week's This American Life (Real Audio) brought tears to my eyes. The accents of the people interviewed might sound foreign to some of you, but they are the accents of everyone I grew up with. As usual This American Life's reporters got right to the heart of the story.
October 19, 2005
October 19, 2005
October 20, 2005
This is Jenn's grandfather in a photo from this date, October 20th, 1958. He was a translator in the military (both Korean and American) for much of his young life before emigrating to the states in the 70's. He looks pretty much the same today, a bit smaller perhaps, but the same bearing. He misses his wife terribly and talks to her every time he visits her grave. Breaks your heart.
October 21, 2005
I lived in LA for 10 years. For 8 years I hated it, comparing it unfavorably New York. I would say annoying and pretentious things like "there's nothing sublime in LA" and spent way too much time being miserable. But then just as I was leaving I got it. I'm not sure why or how, but suddenly the place made sense to me... Now I often find myself missing the place and pitching it to skeptical New Yorkers... but it's a hard pitch, because LA is at least for me is all about private spaces, little pockets of magic hidden from public view... hanging around someone's pool on a hot summer night watching some minor movie starlet doing cannonballs in the deep end... Hard to explain.
But that's another post.
A buddy of mine asked what to do in LA when he visits. Here's a very partial list compiled with the help of my friend (and master seeker-outer of all that is fantastic) Julien Nitzberg:
Uzbekistan @ 7077 Sunset Blvd - go at night when all the Russian gangsters are there
Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles the one on Gower- fantastic fried chicken, open late. I prefer it to the equally legendary (non-fried) Zankou Chicken (some LA folk complain Roscoe's is too touristy, but for me that's part of the fun).
Hirozen - Delicious Japanese. Cucumber sunumono salad. Yum. 8385 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, 90048
Thai Elvis at the Palms -one of my favorite restaurants anywhere. A Thai Elvis impersonator sings nightly. The food is spicy and delicious.
Chung King in Monterey Park - double spicy and double delicious and you get to check out Monterrey Park.
Ktown Restaurants - I particularly
love the Prince @ 3198 1/2 W Seventh for it's lounge lizard off-kilter oddness.
Nanbankan on Santa Monica Blvd (a few blocks past the 405) - My #1 favorite restaurant in LA. People come from Japan for the bacon wrapped asparagus.
And if you want more good eats, pick up Jonathan Gold's Counter Intellegence: Where to Eat in the Real LA. It, and the associated column in the LA Weekly, are indispensable starting points for diving into LA's culinary stew. He writes about food with such enthusiasm that I inevitably would find myself heading out on an adventure after reading his reports.
Free brunch at the Police Academy in Elysian Park on Sundays
Catalina Island - Often overlooked, but a a fun day or overnight trip.
Magic Castle - Where all the kids who wanted to be magicans (and some actual magicians) hang out.
Museum of Jurrassic Technology
Horse Riding in Griffith Park
Black Facts & Wax Museum- 3742 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Los Angeles, Telephone: 323.299.8829 call to make sure they are open, but don't miss this.
Moonlight Rollerway in Glendale - 5110 San Fernando Road, Glendale, CA 91204-1006
Marty and Elaine - Still cool despite their popularity.
Silent Movie on Fairfax - Try to catch some Buster Keaton.
RoseBowl Swap Meet 2nd Sunday of every month
Barbata's Steak House 20001 Ventura Woodland Hills 91634 818-340-5914; geriatric swing band on Fridays and Saturdays. Dancing 9-2a
The Derby - Non geriatric swing
Club Los Globos - 3040 W Sunset Blvd, This place will blow your mind. Dress sharp. Be prepared to dance.
SEEDY BUT WONDERFUL
Cindy Club Thai Restaurant - (4273 Beverly Blvd., Koreatown, 323-906-1640)
La Lucha Libre - In East LA you can sometimes find Lucha Libre matches fought in parking lots and backyards. Ask around the Luchaworld boards to find out where/when.
October 24, 2005
The image below was taken on this day, Oct 24th, 1988 in my senior year dorm room. I'm embarrassed to reveal that still have most of the stuff pictured. That kilm is sitting in our kitchen floor. The Tibetan mask is staring at me here in in my attic office. The postcards in a desk. Etcetera. I haven't even throw out the Macintosh IIf sitting on the desk (it still boots!). I never throw away books.
There is so much I did not know back on that date. Within a little more than a year a series of tragedies would turn my world inside out and send me reeling... So much I could not have imagined standing there looking at my tripod... but I should not feel smug in what little I know now, because that moment of complacency is when life's broadsides can do the most damage.
I do wish I could go back and talk to my college self and tell that guy that it all works out. That all those years in between are worth it. That you can end up exactly where you want to be, in love with your family, enjoying life more than should be legal, and looking forward to what's next.
October 24, 2005
Yesterday Verio, the company that hosts this website, had a massive failure bringing down with it the many thousands of websites they host. In my case it also took down my email. This happens. Computers and networks are unreliable. Annoying, but no big deal. But what was less forgivable was Verio's customer service. Calling in to the customer center the hapless customer would be routed through an hour long mechanized tree of options eventually ending in either a busy signal or an endless hold. No status page was posted on Verio's main site. There was no explanatory message on the phone message. Annoyed, did a bit of research and called the Verio corporate headquarters (303-645-1900 btw).
I didn't even have to explain.
The woman who answering the phone was tense. "All our servers are down. They're trying to get the backup system up, but it's not working."
"You know it would help if someone just left a recorded message or put up a message on your support page," I suggested.
"Well so many people were calling we just shut the phones off. Everybody's in a panic."
Indeed I could hear what sounded like panic in the background. Then the phone died.
Now my curiosity was peaked, what in the world was going on? A call to another office revealed that hurricane Wilma had struck the data center and knocked out the generators and the backup generators.
I don't fault Verio for getting hit by a hurricane. It happens, but knowing that a hurricane is coming don't you think it would be wise to at the very least have a couple of pre-recorded phone messages allowing for the possibility that things might go south?
Almost 18 hours later updates started appearing on the Verio home page and now of course all is back to normal. Me being in the dark for 18 hours is no big deal, but imagine if your company's ecommerce site had blinked out and you had no information about what was going on... Not good.
October 26, 2005
This is me at about the same age my son is now. Two things strike me about this picture. One: My mom was wearing heels in the house. Two: The Nixon era was so... well... Nixonian looking.
October 26, 2005
After escaping the hell that is Midland and forking off the main road, the journey to Marathon was quiet, the roads empty. This is my kind of driving. Open country. Deer. Hawks. The occasional coyote lurking in the cacti. As one heads south the landscape gradually becomes more spectacular. First one seemingly out of place mesa. Then another, then, suddenly you are in a John Ford movie. Painted skys. Rays breaking through the clouds. Dark streams of rain in the distance. All the stuff that makes me swoon.
If you ever find yourself here, I can heartily recommend the Gage Hotel: fireplaces in the rooms, millions of stars in the sky, a decent pool, wireless. Perhaps some photos tomorrow.
October 28, 2005
I've been a big Tomoko Sawada's amazing self portraits ever since I saw a show of hers in Osaka in 1999. Tonight I happened upon her website. Check it out.
October 30, 2005
I forgot batteries for my D70 so no instant gratification photowise...
These are a few things that struck me today:
In response to the question, "Where can I find a drugstore?" asked in Marathon: "Drive down 90 about 27 miles."
Ants so big they feel like pebbles if you accidentally step on them.
A group of cowboys and their wives at saying a prayer before dinner, heads bowed, hats bunched together: "Dear Lord, thank you for the land and it's bounty..."
A weeping willow in the wind catching the last rays of sunshine, and then turning dark against the sky.
The judge whose eyes moistened when he told me his son had died.
A man who when asked how long his family had lived here, crinkled his eyes, tipped his hat and said, "Siempre. Siempre vivimos aqui."
Mars in the night sky so red it felt you could touch it.
Jackrabbits. First one then 20 more darting across the road in the headlights.
The silhouette of lone man standing far out in the desert, a tree on fire.