Kiss me I’m bipedal….

dmitribaltermans.jpg

Just finished reading “Ivan’s War, Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945”, by Catherine Merridale (Picador). For those of you who might still be trying to understand the scale, enormity and shear incomprehensibility of those six, bewilderingly catastrophic years, you might want to pick it up at your local read store. Ivan’s war starts out slowly but once Catherine Merridale gets her grove on she manages to portray, with great skill, the Red Army and the men who filled its wretched ranks.

Believe me, I tend to be more easily mystified than heartbroken, but she managed the unthinkable and flipped this state of mind on its head. I soon found myself mourning and grief-stricken for the victims of this supremely Soviet state, and its uniquely echanting combination of totalitarianism, Stalinist ideological rigidity, and the absolute, unrelenting carnage brought onto them by Hitler’s equally mind numbingly hateful brand of collective insanity. There may never be any words strong enough to express the misery of the “frontovikis” during and after the Soviets’ “Great Patriotic War”.

Ever-since the fall of the Soviet Union, the reconstituted Russian state has opened its archives to greater scrutiny and researchers like Ms. Merridale have been allowed to dig in and conduct interviews with former Red Army soldiers and officers. Russian and foreign historians will no doubt have a field day with its archived decades but what is certainly not going to change is that there is, and will always be, far more ways to die at the hand of man, than there are ways for men to peacably live by it.

Given that we are such damm bloody apes, let’s stop pretending and go for a rename. How about Homo hemohabilis? Sounds nice, and beside, chicks will dig it…..and to further my case; it is widely believed that reds and oranges are meant to wet our appetite and stimulate our rage. I presume that way back when, the sight of a hominid’s blood soaked hands, still whispers sweet nothings to this primate and comforts the murderer to live and mate another day. I’m down with that….. ‘Hominid’s delight’…!

Which reminds me: Odile Crick, illustrator and lifetime mate of Francis Crick, of “Watson, Crick and DNA”, LLC… died July 5th, in La Jolla, California. She sketched life’s double helix for her husband who could not draw for shit (Francis H. C. Crick died in 2004.). I guess that’s how you might be remembered if your husband and his lab mate helped discover life as we know it. I guess that’s better than, “she once cooked Francis some steak and peas….!”.
Her DNA has dearly departed but is survived in a brother, Philippe, and two daughters, Gabrielle and Jacqueline; two grandchildren; and four step-grandkids(her DNA, not exactly, but she loved them just the same anyway). BTW, Watson’s sister, Betty, was recruited to type Watson and Crick’s research paper on DNA, keeping it as they say, all in the family. Can’t wait to read that obituary….

Who reads blogs anyway?

Funny thing is once you start writing one you start to read them too…. Birds of a feather, I gather; or could it be that even-though no one reads mine it is heartening and within the range of possibilities that someday, after paying my dues online, I will have a readership of mine. I can’t say that I am too concerned about it because I really enjoy writing, and besides, it keeps me busy and my mind occupied, like the hands in the devil’s playground.

The devil’s playground….. I wonder what that looks like and what kind of rides does it have? Is it like Great America or Six Flags, like the ones they have in Baghdad?

In other news: My friend Marissa just started a blog too and posted a good one about donuts and a 4 point 2.

Flag Post.

flag.jpg

I found this cardboard flag floating over a kids’ classroom earlier this afternoon. Seventh and eigth graders sit beneath it and doodle, sculpt, glue, paste……space. When I went to middle school, the only decoration which graced our walls was a small crucifix; overlording and hovering above us forty two, twelve year old convicts.

I am not much of a flag waver but the American flag, and those gold visors astronauts wore, to protect them from exploding eye sockets, always remind me of Apollo eleven’s baby steps; when I was six and missing my front teeth. They are forever etched in my mind as the only colors in that otherwise greyhish universe. As for crucifixes, they remind me of how interminable this kid’s universe used to feel and how much like penal colonies these institutions used to be.

In other news: “It means nothing to me. I have no opinion about it, and I don’t care”.
Pablo Picasso on the first moon landing, The New York Times, (1969-07-21)”.

What’s that sound in your eye?

dusty.jpg#

Since all we get these days are data files and images, is it too much to ask to get to know what Mars sounds like….?

Like any self respecting fan of all things celestial, I take great pleasure in reveling in the facts that no matter how self-obsessed or delusional I may get, there is always a place, far from where I dwell, where I can go and marvel at the unmentionable vastness of the known universe.

A few weeks back, in early July, I went camping in the Sierra Nevadas where, as luck would have it, this god fearing, prostate packing, 42 year old’s tool, made him get up and take a mid-summer’s night piss on the closest evergreen he could see. Not too close to my tent as one might suffer the consequences….. le lendemain…..but not too far either, as to not fall, and off that precipitous cliff he might have imagined. Being that it was the middle of a dark and moonless night, it seemed reasonable to assume that a precipice might be harder to anticipate if your neck is cranked way back, looking up and away.

I like to wonder as much as the next guey**, but plunging to my death while relieving myself, is a stunt I’d rather wait to taste just before I finally take my last steps and kiss The Little Prince’s cape…… But when I do, we’ll kiss and greet on both cheeks, and I’ll finally get to piss on that snake, the one that looks like those hats men used to wear, before JFK caught a bullet with the back of his head (if he had worn a hat, that fateful day in Dallas, instead of baring his head to an assassin’s rifled gaze, he might have lived out a more lead free and prosperous presidency).

There’s nothing like looking up at the sky and pissing on the ground beneath it. There’s still nothing like reminding the forest and the beasts that a man will pay twenty bucks to stay the night, eat a steak and drive home the next day. It’s not every day that he gets to piss on a stump beneath the Milky way……Just another way to further remind this here Universe, that free will and a tank of gasoline brought me here, while ‘they’, will spend the rest of their natural living days trying to open garbage pales or chase down four legged protein shakes…….
At the very least, not bothering to treck on over to the latrines, at three o’clock in the morning, feels better than splitting open my chin on the bathroom sink…….and it’s good way to keep my feminine side humming………since whatever estrogen I have coursing through my veins needs as much tending, as the peaches in Voltaire’s silk breeches; those same treatises where Buddha meets Plato meets Rousseau meets snow globes or the cold wet steel of a French Guillotine (I have a hard time believing that Voltaire did much gardening and will presume that he meant it metaphorically).

As I stood there, I thought about the fact that there are millions of great images of Mars, Saturn and the Moon***, but that galactic sound files are not that easily found or downloaded on the information super highway. I understand, but regret that because there are no molecules for sound waves to travel within the vacuum of space, that there is no sweet celestial music for us to hear. Nevertheless, Mars has an atmosphere and that ought to be worth at least an MP3.

The only space recording I have ever heard came from what the Cassini/Huygens probe sent back and recorded while descending into Titan’s atmosphere. That was sweet… but in the future, can I please listen to other atmospheres.

In other news, landslide and meteor strikes; how on earth are we supposed to get out of the way if there is not a sound to be heard on either side of the Moon.

* Multi-year mission to Saturn and it’s moons.
** Guey. That would loosely translate as “dude”, in Spanish.
*** Hell, as we speak, they are sending a giant camera to Pluto which will reach the icy body in a little more than a decade.
# Also commonly known as the Red Eye nebula.

Fantasy photography leagues….

80.jpg

My friend Raul posted an image by Peter Henry Emerson who “was one of the first vocal proponents of “naturalistic” art photography (photography done out in the field) at a time when most art photographers worked exclusively in the studio” and it got me all thinking and shit.

Looking at these photographs reminded me of how great it would have been if photography had been invented by amphibians, in a Cambrian swamp the size of Switzerland. I’d kill to see some pics, of the first flowering plants, Napoleon and Josephine or Polynesia, circa 1465.

Emerson(1856-1936) quoted*: “I have…I regret it deeply, compared photographs to great works of art, and photographers to great artists. It was rash and thoughtless, and my punishment is having to acknowledge it now… In short, I throw my lot in with those who say that Photography is a very limited art. I deeply regret that I have come to this conclusion…”

History proved him wrong, even if it took far too long. After him came the throngs who blissfully ignored the ruminations of a man who lacked the imagination to understand that, given time, any new form of self expression will eventually blossom.

Over time, artistic expression accrues and grows like those interest rates your bank charges. Despite what he thought, there is nothing like traveling back in time and seeing what it really looked like; at least through someone else’s eyes. To my eyes, it’s actually more interesting, than any thought he might have ever had in his lifetime.

*Via Raul Gutierrez.

“Post-Jungian empirical naming conventions and cultural appropriations in French Canadian contemporary Photography”.

acadie.jpg

[display_podcast]

I am currently in the process of writing and editing a white paper for submission in the “Dawson City, Boeuf/Meyer/Ju’dGazon, Neo-pictorialist Ontological Filipo-Acadist journal and foundation”; an on-line, bilingual, Canadian bimonthly publication and society, dedicated to the advancement and promotion of contemporary post-Jungian cross-gender boundaries in French Canadian neo-pictorialists. Here are a few excerpts in lieu of a preview…..

In other notes, I originally delivered a ‘pre-print’ version of this paper, in lecture form, to the Supreme First-Nation Tribal Gerontology Leadership Council for the Preservation and Advancement of Pre-Columbian Lingual Atrabilism and Gender Representation in Sub-Arctic Agrarian Atavistic societies.*1

Synopsis:

“Post-Jungian empirical naming conventions and cultural appropriations in French Canadian contemporary Photography”. Authorship by Olivier Laude, ‘Proboscis Annum’ Post Doctoral recipient of the Judith Butler Gender Prognosis Honorary academic medal, awarded yearly to an outstanding post-doctoral candidate involved in the promotion and dissemination of academic excellence in the fields of Lingual Atrabilism and Pre-Columbian gender representation in sub-arctic neo-agrarian consanguineous societies.

Begin excerpt*2:

Post-Jungian literary critics have only recently started dissecting the contemporary ontology of sub-arctic still-pictorialists and are presently adopting interdisciplinary gender-branding polities to deconstruct social and cultural post-reconstructivist cross-gender appropriation theories in urban and pre-urban socio-representative agrarian societies. Once the exclusive neo-conformist stomping grounds of post-modern gender theorists these institutionalized social constructions, or “artifacts”, have recently been adopted by Acadians, who, ten to twelve years ago started using the pictorial representation of their “non de plume” as boundary cannons; itself a revolutionary and transformative ontological construct designed to outline the regenerative nature of perceived cultural exploitations at the hand of filipo-lingual deconstructivists…………..Unwittingly, subsequent generations of Acadian pictorialists quantified these empirical and cultural appropriative naming conventions within the same socialized interpretative and anti-deterministic “artifacts” as their filipo-lingual theoritical nemesis……….More recently, an ethno-political fracas over the abuse and overt use of Antonio Gramsci’s theory of hegemony has both prefigured and enriched the current social and resulting filipo-Acadian discourse by injecting much needed Durkeimian dialectics between Filipo-lingual pictorialists and Filipo-Acadists……….. Might we be living in a time when these feuding and long standing epistemological rifts between Filipo-pictorialists and Filipo-Acadists are to be resolved once and for all ? We shall see……

In the meantime, I am looking forward to seeing you all next spring at the 53rd annual convention of the “Dawson City, Boeuf/Meyer/Ju’dGazon, Neo-pictorialist Ontological Filipo-Acadist foundation”, in Dawson City.

*1-I understand this method is unorthodox but ‘in the text’ annotations were deemed necessary to these pre-journaled intrusions .
*2-Courtesy of the “Dawson City, Boeuf/Meyer/Ju’dGazon, Neo-pictorialist Ontological Filipo-Acadist foundation”.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

sierramadre.jpg

If I am not mistaken, I think I first saw “The treasure of the Sierra Madre”, the 1948 John Huston film by the same name, in January or February of dos mil tres. I might rank it as my all time favorite, not just because it is a film fantastic, but because it so closely matches my own aesthetics. Anyway, I have little to say besides professing my love and admiration for such a great movie. Rent it, buy it, steal it, do whatever best suits your spirit, but see it before you meet, “The” Great Spirit; which, as you may already know, can happen, quite suddenly, to you and me. Please to admire the scouting, the light on the cacti, the cinematography, and the acting, if you fancy that sort of thing.

I do not own a copy of the film and have only seen it once but I remember watching it soon after having a psychedelic black and white dream, which found me skinny dipping, under the keels of World War II battleships. Bathed in moonlight, the great ships were being shelled by unseen and murderous aerial bomb attacks. Thankfully, they seemed to always miss the mark, their blind and angry marksmanship resulting only in creating beautifully lavish underwater vortices. To my submarined eyes it looked like mixing galaxies with egg whites, sea salt and half and half. My dream had matched the mood and contrast of the Sierra Madre’s black and whites; if not for my bit parts.

sierracactus.jpg

Glibberish.

Here are a few more “Art Speaks” I am now bound and determined to collect feverishly. May be someday, they’ll be worth something. I will start a new category called “art speaks”. Every week or when I fancy it, I will collect these priceless gems from one web site, which shall remain nameless, and post them with or without wisecracks.

Site one:

This one does not have the prerequisite glibberishness but I like it. It sounds so, how to say? Like a very small marketing niche. Definitely not selling out.

“artist name withheld’” exquisite photographic prints focus on the offbeat subject matter of piles of yard waste in suburban California towns, with an emphasis on the regions surrounding San Jose”.

Run of the mill literary work, a good primer and a collector’s must.

“San Francisco-based ………. continues the multi-volume cross-genre narrative work begun in his Micro-climates. Hopping from fragmented shards of poetry to cerebral prose to an odd and funny one-act play, …………sardonically explores the follies and momentary pleasures of existing in a jarring landscape saturated by media, detritus (real and imaginary), and other humans, a place where we occupiers find ourselves continually re-occupied by malevolent…well…unknowns.”

Bust the move…… gently.

“A formalist with a brimming, elegiac soul, D….. will gently rock your attitude toward cinematic landscape.”

Bravo…? It takes guts to use a word like that.

“After about three minutes I began to be aware of the subtlety of rhythm, within each shot and shot-to-shot, which carried each cut, causing each new image to sit in-the-light of those several previous…a little short of a miracle. Bravo!”

I am not sure if I am supposed to be offended or run to Yoga class.

“From P…… the particles are still there and the light is still there, but now there is the distinct impression of watching air blowing sand, yet the air is as transparent as the viewer’s mind.”

Hiroshi Sugimoto.

Way way back when, so far back in time that I can’t remember exactly when, someone mentioned in passing, that if you were going to be a poet that you should never use abstract words or concepts to express yourself. May be they/he/she said something else but overtime this is what I remember hearing somewheres in my head…
So remember, if you are an artist, an amateur artist, a curator, a critic, an amateur critic or a gallerist please keep big words far from your nimble and feverish mind and snuggly tucked somewheres in inaccessable body parts. Otherwise, you’ll sound like a tool and will only impress those of you who are dumber than you; the rest of us will be forced to ignore you.

Steer clear of Art speaks like these: Narrative(!), resonant(!), dissonant(!) meditative(!), discourse(!); cathartic(!), organic(!), dialectic(!); mediate(!); appropriate(!), gender-based(!), textured(!), imbued(!), fractured(!), manufactured(!); pioneering(!); fractious(!), contentious(!), heterogeneous(!)….

They may not have the heart to tell you but when you write like this, you sound like a fucking prick. Construct(!) phrases others might like to read, instead of making the rest of us skip your entreaties(!)groaningly.

sugi.jpg

Take Hiroshi Sugimoto for example, whose show I just saw at the De Young, in San Francisco. Try him on for size and see if this is a paragraph you might be able to craft. Lo and behold, it’s actually interesting and informative(!)….After reading what he has to say I find myself liking him and his work even more. Go to his site for more.

Portraits: “In the sixteenth century, Flemish court painter to the British Crown Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543) gave us the imposingly regal portrait of Henry VIII now kept in London’s Royal Portrait Gallery. Based on this Holbein portrait, the wax figure artisans of Madame Tussaud’s in their consummate skill recreated an absolutely faithful likeness of the king. Which allowed me—based on my own studies into the Renaissance lighting Holbein might have painted by—to re-do the Royal Portrait, substituting photography for painting, the sole recording medium available at the time. If this photograph now appears lifelike to you, you had better reconsider what it means to be alive here and now.” (see portraits above). You see it’s not that hard, just come out with it and stop giving the Arts and your fellow artists or critics a bad name.

So, yesterday I went to the De Young in San Francisco’s Golden Gate and saw Hiroshi Sugimoto’s. I have always liked his work. Let me re-phrase that, I have always really liked half his work. I like his Portraits, his Dioramas, his blur-chitecture, theaters and Chambers of horrors. The rest of it, the conceptual forms, Joe and in Praise of Shadows are less interesting to me personaly. I may not appreciate his more “cerebral”(!) works, but at least when he writes about it, I respect it and understand it. I am interested in what he has to say, and do not, as I often do, find myself wishing I could strangle him, or you, with a shoe lace. Check it.

Please to take C14H19NO2 twice a day.

piggy1.jpg

I just came back from a date on Clement street; San Fran’s™ Chinatown’s ugly-homely second cousin. In San Fran™, we are blessed with lots of Chinatowns; there are at least a dozen Chinatowns in San Fran™. The famous one is downtown, the one where you can go looking for props like straw sandals, the ones buddhist pilgrims wear on Emei Shan™, or a dozen oddly sized Golden Buddhas™. Those are in my home office now.

San Fran’s™ second biggest Chinatown is located in what I sometimes call Clementtown™*. It’s not technically a town of any kind but I don’t mind. From Arguello, it runs down the length of Clement street and peters on 26th. It’s also creeping south, branching out and sideward™ towards Geary boulevard, pushing Russians onward™ . Clementtown™ might have spread on to California Street, just north of Clement street, but there the neighborhood changes abruptly from lychee stands to ritzier stomping grounds. It’s a predominately rich white ward, a tougher nut to gentrify.

To fill my pills, I visited with Doctor Z… Them pills help me to concentrate on the ” Day to Day™”; like not forgetting to listen to people when they speak to me, or wash my hands after I eat fish bits. We chatted, it was great….. We laughed, we cried™, he watched me dry, he’s used to that…. I told him all about my Dearly Departed™, who took too many pills, and promptly keeled over into a pauper’s grave; leaving nothing useful behind; at least, none that we could find.
Those natty pills make it easier to focus and remember people I love to hate and flood my brain with: Meth-yl-phen-i-date™.

*C-town, see the C eat the T, that’s a tasty part of town.

Backpackers’ Paradise.

olivierhk.jpg

I was doing a little house cleaning when I came across some of my old diaries. I am not sure I want to re-read them again for fear of personalizing embarrassment, but still, I found some pics, when I was twenty three. I am very much against self incrimination as a general rule of thumb. These pictures were taken in the spring of 1987 while in Hong Kong and Thailand. I think the mustachioed ones were shot in a booth in Kowloon, within shouting distance of the Chungking mansions; Hong Kong’s Nathan road’s backpacker’s overnight attraction. I can’t recall exactly where I bought the mustache but I vaguely remember purchasing it a couple streets over, near that movie theater where I used to watch kick flicks before returning to China on a new visa. The middle image was shot in Bangkok that same year in July; the details of which are lost to time and within the putrefying folds and cavernous recesses of my forty two year old mind.

Anyway, and since I am going down that lane, here is what I looked like in 1978, when I first traveled to the United States. All of five feet one inches. My hair has since migrated towards the gray but my eye color still has not changed.

olivier78.jpg