April 6, 2006

Jenn and the baby have been down in Philadelphia for a few days and the house is unusually quiet. Too quiet. I can hear myself think, hear my footsteps... the hum of the refrigerators and the city sounds which I never normally notice. For the many years I lived alone, a quiet house and solo meals were never acknowledged. Never noticed. But with the family away our empty bed is cold and the incessant stillness keeps me awake.

I wonder how my father managed in the long years after my mother died in that big Texas house all alone. In that era he hated weekends and would often go in to work or fly somewhere, anywhere, just to be on the move. He had to get extra pages in his passport for all those long aimless weekend trips. I know now why sometimes back in those days a conversation over the phone would end (I would have something to do or read) and he would ask if I could just stay on a little longer. Sometimes we didn't talk, I doing whatever I was doing, my dad listening to the static. Sometimes I could hear him pacing. Those years were so hard, but eventually he fell in love again and we've all moved on. Life right now is almost unbearably sweet, but that sweetness makes me understand what my father lost and those long stretches of static haunt me because I could have done more.

I wish I were a tetrachromat

April 4, 2006

I mistyped something in my browser and came across Sort of a long way around the block for a little joke, but I approve. 'What's a tetrachromat?' you ask. I first read about this phenomenon here: Looking for Madame Tetrachromat. This wikipedia entry provides some more info.

My question, 'Why do jumping spiders need to have super color vision? What advantage does it give them out there?' Perhaps knowing the subtle difference between similarly colored leaves gave them some evolutionary advantage over another type of less visually acute spider now long extinct... When I was a kid I prided myself in being able to name all the various colors in the big box of crayons. Without looking at the labels I could tell the difference between violet blue and blue violet, brick red from maroon, spring green from sea green. I remember thinking there were never enough reds but quite enough blues. How many more blues could a jumping spider perceive? I feel jealous.

A few items on my "places I want to experience before I die" list

April 3, 2006

(in no particular order)

Cappadocia, Turkey
Civita, Italy
Alang, India
A trip down the Niger river in Mali.
The road from Asmara to Assab in Eritria
Pyongyang, North Korea
Longsheng, China in the early fall
Harbin, China in the dead of winter
Donegal, Ireland
Moreno, Argentina
Malinge Lake, Canada
Hill of Crosses near Šiauliai, Lithuania
The source of the Mekong in Kham
The Cotswolds (by foot)
Snowdonia National Park, Wales
Tangier (see previous post)
Dodecanese, Greece
Otavalo, Ecuador
Sana'a, Yemen

Yto Barrada

April 3, 2006

A few years ago I caught wind of an exhibition by photographer Yto Barrada documenting life in Tangier. As Tangier is on my "I want to experience before I die" list it piqued my interest and I wasn't disappointed. The image above was from that previous show. The new exhibition is titled A Life Full of Holes and it should be interesting. I'm sad I'll be out of town.

Friday April 7th, 2006
6:00 to 8:00 PM
Cocktail Reception for the Artist
at The Kitchen, 512 West 19th Street

Michal Chelbin

April 2, 2006

I stumbled upon the work of Michal Chelbin today. Her photography is one part Balthus, one part Arbus, made stranger by being set in the Russian hinterlands. The images are creepy, beautiful, and foreign. The site suffers from an awful flash interface, but if you can get past it, there are some compelling images to be had.

3 Years

March 31, 2006

Yesterday (actually the day before yesterday as it is already tomorrow), was our anniversary. Three years. Leather. THREE YEARS! Time accelerates at an uncomfortable pace. If I rewind to the moment Jenn and I were at the alter being lassoed together (literally lassoed, as this was a Mexican wedding and that's part of the ceremony) I remember time suddenly becoming very slow, expanding, and silencing the room.

It was an improbable situation. A couple of hundred people from the many disparate parts of our lives converged in a little village church 4 hours away from anything. The scene was pretty-radiating strands of flowers hung from the wooden beams down to the alter. Villagers in their cowboy hats had gathered outside to watch the men in tuxedos, and the women in hamboks, saris, and dresses pass through the old wooden doors. It was sunset just as we had planned and we knew by the time the long Catholic service was over stars would be peeking out in the desert sky.

So many things had gone wrong leading up to that moment- big things. Serious things like Jenn being stuck down for 3 days with food poisoning, my tuxedo going missing in a cab, and a bus of Koreans getting lost in the desert. When they placed that lasso over us, the same one that had married my parents, I felt it was the first time I could take a breath, look over at my lovely bride, and just relax. I held her hand. In a minute my godfather would give us thirteen gold coins (another Mexican tradition) and then in a few more minutes, I would put a ring on Jenn's finger.

I thought many things in that long moment most of which I have forgotten, but the one question that stuck was, "By what principle will we lead our life together?" Someone had just spoken about us and had said our greatest virtue and our greatest flaw was that we loved beauty. That we would search for it. "True," I thought, but surely beauty is ephemeral, hardly an organizing principle. 'Love' seemed too obvious, too broad; 'truth', self righteous. I decided the question needed more thought and of course consultation. This would be decided together. Three years later we're still asking the question, and perhaps the answer is that there is no simple answer, perhaps the important thing is to remember to keep asking the question despite the years rushing past and all the other things that make us forget the moments when time stands still.

Lisa Ross

March 30, 2006

One day if you are lucky, you will travel across the the Taklamakan desert of Xinjiang. And on the journey you will stop in the small oasis towns along the way. And if you do find yourself in this situation, if you are the type of person to find yourself in the middle of the Taklamakan, inevitably you will walk to the outskirts of those villages where the irrigation ends and the desert encroaches, it is here you will find holy sites marked with prayer flags, a practice perhaps borrowed from Tibetans or perhaps inherited from distant Sythian ancestors. Lisa Ross has visited these places and stood there and photographed them. Her fantastic new show is called Traces of Devotion. It opens tomorrow and if you are in Dumbo you should check it out.

Jenn 1993

March 28, 2006

I've was organizing the attic tonight when I ran across a bunch of images of my wife from one of her college photography classes... My guess is that these ones went down like this:

Assignment: Self Portrait

1. Drive out from Chicago looking for something "artistic"....

2. See a corn field and swerve to a stop.

3. Quickly set the camera up on a tripod. Worry about being discovered.

4. Set the timer and run like hell into the corn.

5. Make serious arty face, wait for the snap, repeat.

Actually I love this whole contact sheet and am tempted to post the whole thing. Enjoy because Jenn might force me to remove them.

OS X 5 Years Later

March 25, 2006

John Siracusa my favorite writer about all things OS X notes that OS X is five years old. In honor of this anniversary I thought it might be fun to dig up one of my old web columns written in January 2000 a year before the official release OS X release. The writing style is annoying, but it's fun to see what I got wrong and what I got right. I've reposted it here. Note most of the links are dead, so just ignore them.

Other Lives

March 23, 2006

Most of us have led other lives. I do not have to roll back the years too far to see myself as another person, standing in another house, thinking thoughts that would be foreign to me now. I am always amazed when I meet people whose paths are orderly-in which one dot leads to the next in a straight line-and I am almost offended when someone from my childhood tells me, "you know, you haven't changed one bit." I suppress the urge to to curse, and tell them the lie they expect to hear, "you know, you haven't changed either."

Sometimes in dreams I am transported to one time or another. I will be back in Rajastan sitting on the roof of an overcrowded train, watching the monsoon sweep across the desert, waiting for the men who sit cross-legged on elephants to raise their umbrellas one by one. I will remember what it was to be a shaggy haired nomad detached from the world experiencing that moment: the smell of the rushing hot air, the blue holy man, immobile, his hair whipping around his face, the roar of the train, and those umbrellas going up. I will forget I am asleep in my bed next to my wife and child. Except for a lingering feeling akin to deja vu I do not remember what will come, so I will lose myself in the rain, and feel all joy and sadness I felt back then.

Sometimes these dreams go on for eons, but invariably I will be pulled back, startled by my smiling son with a poke to the face and a burst of speech in strange toddler language best described as a Gallic yodel. In the seconds that make up that post-liminial eternity I cross the divide. I am that guy on that train and I am this guy now. Soon... by the time I am fully awake the other lives fade back to their proper place and I am ready to start the day. My one lingering sadness: knowing this moment, this day, will be one that someday I return to in dreams for I will be someone else, in some other house, in some other place.

Paul Schiek

March 22, 2006

I've tinkered with making Polaroid panoramas, but I've never done it as well as Paul Schiek.

More of Mr. Schiek's elliptically delicious work can be seen at the Stephen Wirtz gallery site.

Good Burger

March 22, 2006

Tonight I attended a meeting of the New York Burger Club. There were no rules or minutes, just discussions of burgers and burger joints and of course eating of hamburgers. I was the new guy but everyone in the group was welcoming, friendly, and curious. "How do you like your burgers?" was always the opening line. My preference for well done was oohed and ahhed with none of the anticipated distain. Apparently I'm the first in the group to take my burgers this way and that was ok with everyone. One guy confided that each member of the group was on his own quest. Indeed everyone seemed to know everyone else's preferences for thickness, juciness, bun size etc. At one point after a long discussion of meat to bun ratios and whether the meat in tonight's meal had been frozen at some point one of the girls and turned to me and asked if I was ok, worried that it might be too much. "Are you kidding this is my internal dialog every time I pick up a hamburger," I answered. She and the others seemed to relax a bit. I could tell I was amongst friends. Photos from this evening can be found here.

missing the beach

March 20, 2006

About half of our beach snapshots look something like this.

Raw Vision

March 18, 2006

I recently followed a link from the always interesting Proceedings of the Athanathius Kirshner Society to RAW Vision Magazine. Raw Vision is new to me but it seems it shouldn't be as each issue seems to hold something of interest... Whether it's Nigerian Cement Sculpture, Loy Allen Bowlin, Afgan War Rugs, Prison Tattoos, or Mediumistic Art, they've got my number.

As an aside, my wife on magazine subscriptions: "Somebody has to rethink the whole renewal process. I could do without the threats."

Road Rage

March 18, 2006

We're in our car sitting on Atlantic Avenue trying to cross the street into Fort Green, but people keep running the red light preventing us from crossing.

  Me: Aaarg. I think I have road rage.
  Jenn: We don't drive enough for you to have road rage. You have to earn it.
Another car runs red light.
  Me: Bastard.
  Jenn: It's not road rage if you're smiling.
  Me: (frowning) Son of a Bitch!
  Jenn: More like a road meow.

The Judy's

March 17, 2006

If you were a little punk rock kid in Texas in the early 80's you probably loved the Judys. Their albums are all out of print (I have the vinyl) but now through the magic of the interweb you can listen to their albums without your mom throwing them out. Start with Washarama (My mom destroyed 3 different copies of this one). Sounds almost cute now. (Links are realaudio only unfortunately.) Don't you think Guyana Punch is due for a good cover?

Photography Weekend

March 16, 2006

Now that it's less freezing it's time to do some gallery hopping. These are some photo shows I've want to see:

Paris in the 50's looks fun.

The always great Martin Parr has a show at Danziger Projects.

Hard not to get excited by a Michael Wolf show. More Michael Wolf on his own website. His images never fail to amaze.

If I make it uptown I'll check out the John Szarkowski at MOMA. I had never heard of Szarkowski until this piece on NPR.

The show titled 1968: All in a Dream intrigues. It's a collection of amateur photos from 1968 collected by a guy who worked at a photo processing lab in Boston.

Zabriskie is showing Tomoko Sawada's Schoolgirls. Her website.

Mark the new Sallie Mann show as another must visit.

I've been seeing an awful lot of images taken of taxidermied animals lately, but this image by Richard Barnesjumps out (at Hosfelt).

Anthony Lepore makes interesting images and I like his nice big prints but I'm not sure I love the work... they feel a bit cold to me. Emotionless.

I'm curious about the new Nan Goldin exhibition (no imageS). She's a photo hero of mine although I haven't been compelled by her recent work as much as I was by her early work... That said, is there anyone who could keep up that level of intensity through a career?

As an aside why are gallery websites so god awful, so.... 1995. And why so few images from your exhibitions? Here's a humble suggestion: 1) publish your homepage as a blog using movabletype or some other easy to manage blogware. This would allow you to stay up to date without a fuss and keep your audience up to date via rss 2) get good digital images of your artists' work and publish galleries using iphoto or aperture (this will give you professional easy to navigate, easyt to update galleries).

Jen Beckman gets all this already. Her site a) incorporates a blog b) has an RSS feed. My only suggested improvement would be to link images from a specific artist to a gallery by that artist (right now clicking images takes you to a page with only that image on it which is a bit disorientating)...

Anyway that's it. See you out there. I'll be the guy with the stroller and the camera.

Olivia Aurora, 1919

March 15, 2006

Today was my grandmother's birthday. Her name was Olivia Aurora Perez. This is a picture of her at the age of 6 in her Sunday best on her father's ranch. She never liked the picture and it was 8 years before she would have another one made. This image originally included 4 of her 10 siblings. Each of the 4 kept their torn portions of the picture until their deaths. Her curse was watching 9 of the 10 die before her. Often she would dream the deaths a few days before they would happen and wake up with eyes full of tears clutching her well worn rosary. She would whisper her own death was near each time she said goodbye to me. As a child I would cry, but after 25 years I stopped believing her and then of course it happened.

My grandmother spent a good portion of her life in the kitchen a fact of which she was most proud. When I dream of food I am always sitting at that small table prodding her (between bites) for another story of her father the bandit/revolutionary or laughing at one of her sharp observations. One of her brothers would say his 25 years of marriage had gone by "in ten minutes." "Ten minutes under cold water," she would whisper. She only finished the 6th grade but would always joke that she was more educated than my grandfather who only made it through the 4th. Her penmenship maintained the studied care of a child and sometimes she would use a ruler to keep her lines straight.

I was her favorite. She made no effort to hide this from my cousins or my brothers. I could do no wrong by her even though I managed to flood her house, crash my grandfather's car (at age 4), and nearly blow up a neighbor's workshop with homemade fireworks.

I look at her eyebrows and nose every day in the mirror. She smelled of rosewater and flour and she had the softest hands. I miss her.

Duck Season

March 14, 2006

Ever since we caught the trailer for Duck Season (Temporada de Patos), by the Mexican director Fernando Eimbcke a few months ago, Jenn and I have been eager to check out the film. Last night we finally did. The frenetic trailer misrepresents the movie somewhat. The film about boredom of pre-teens stuck in an apartment without electricity on a Sunday afternoon is presented with bone dry deadpan humor that recalls Aki Kaurismaki or Jim Jarmusch. The camera is stationary, the dialog slow , and the humor often found in the tiniest of glances. Boredom is hard to pull off on screen unless you plant a few ticking time bombs to keep the audience hooked and while there are plenty of ticking bombs here, they don't get planted until rather late in the game. By that time about a quarter of our audience had already checked out (the lady next to me was snoring loudly about 15 minutes in). Still there are plenty of laughs here (and ultimately some real emotion) especially if you are patient and speak Spanish (much gets lost in translation). Add strong cinematography, a winning cast of young actors, a great soundtrack and you have a fun little movie. Check it out if you are in the right mood.

Another Reason We Left Los Angeles

March 13, 2006

Saturday was beyond nice here in New York City. You know it's a nice day when they wheel out the great-grandmothers from the doorman buildings and let them warm in the sun. Not too hot. Not too cold... No humidity. Yesterday it rained which was fine because it was warm friendly rain and then today I walked out and I could feel it in my bones, no doubt about it: winter has passed. Hello spring.

Notes to self 28 years later

March 13, 2006

Powder blue poly suit with deep bell bottoms. Check.
Cool pose. Check.
Earth shoes. Check. (essential)
W i d e & high open collar shirt. No tie. Check.
Vest. Ummm.
Show off your garden. No. No! So not cool. Stop.

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