Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Defeat by Kahlil Gibran


Defeat, my Defeat, my solitude and my aloofness,
You are dearer to me than a thousand triumphs,
And sweeter to my heart than all world-glory.

Defeat, my Defeat, my self-knowledge and my defiance,
Through you I know that I am yet young and swift of foot
And not to be trapped by withering laurels.
And in you I have found aloneness
And the joy of being shunned and scorned.

Defeat, my Defeat, my shining sword and shield,
In your eyes I have read
That to be enthroned is to be enslaved,
And to be understood is to be levelled down,
And to be grasped is but to reach one’s fullness
And like a ripe fruit to fall and be consumed.

Defeat, my Defeat, my bold companion,
You shall hear my songs and my cries and my silences,
And none but you shall speak to me of the beating of wings,
And urging of seas,
And of mountains that burn in the night,
And you alone shall climb my steep and rocky soul.

Defeat, my Defeat, my deathless courage,
You and I shall laugh together with the storm,
And together we shall dig graves for all that die in us,
And we shall stand in the sun with a will,
And we shall be dangerous.

Neil Diamond @ Hollywood Bowl October 1 & 2 2008


I know...I'm an in the closet Diamond fan. At least he's not a blood diamond.

Many years ago I went to one of my favorite old man bars in the middle of the afternoon. This bar was infamous for giving people the boot for transgressions like saying 'fuck' within ear shot of the bartender. So I walk in to what is normally a very busy bar on Jazz nights and see about five older gentleman sitting at the bar drinking their poison of choice. I walk up to the bar order a Jameson on the rocks and sit down next to a very nice man who chewed my ear off about his wife and their Hawaiian vacations. Very pleasant...

The juke box played on when suddenly Shilo begins...

The normally semi-unfriendly bartender walks over, stands directly in front of me (keep in mind he is standing behind the bar directly across from where I'm sitting), puts one leg up cowboy style and proceeds to belt out Shilo. It was awesome!!! My first and last serenade.

Santa Barbara Off-Axis 2008 October 1 - November 9


Although our neighbor to the north is typically known for its stellar views and celebrity mansions, Santa Barbara has a stash of hidden artistic gems, many of which are revealed during the second annual Off-Axis festival. This monthlong celebration of contemporary work gives Santa Barbara the opportunity to flex its aesthetic muscles with exhibitions, performances, and lectures by internationally acclaimed artists at several local venues. The impressive roster of events includes an exhibition of Horace Bristol photographs, a walking tour of a sprawling outdoor public-art show, a performance by multimedia artist Sara Wookey, and a satellite exhibition of pieces from the California Biennial. Now you finally have the perfect excuse to plan that weekend getaway. - Heather Silva

when: Wednesday Oct 1 - nov 9
where: Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum (653 Paseo Nuevo, Santa Barbara, 805.966.5373)
price: FREE

TV On The Radio: Dear Science

Damien Hirst's art 'absurd' and 'tacky', says critic Robert Hughes


According to the Telegraph...

Damien Hirst's works are "absurd" and "tacky commodities", according to Robert Hughes, a prominent Australian art critic.

The critic said commercial pieces with large price tags mean "art as spectacle loses its meaning" and identified the British artist's work as a cause of that loss. Hughes says it is "a little miracle" Hirst's 35ft statue Virgin Mother, could be worth £5 million and yet be made by someone "with so little facility."

He calls Hirst's formaldehyde tiger shark, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, a "tacky commodity", and "the world's most over-rated marine organism", despite collector Charles Saatchi selling it for close to £7 million in 2004.

His criticism comes amid claims Hirst is now so rich he is a dollar billionaire, and if his empire continues at the rate it is going, he will soon be worth more than Sotheby's, the auction house.

Hughes, 70, is famous for his 1980 BBC series The Shock of the New, which made the theories behind modernism in art accessible to a wider audience.

The latest attack was made in a Channel 4 documentary about art and money called The Mona Lisa Curse, to be shown on September 21, which details Hughes's observations over 50 years as a New York-based art reviewer.

He says works of art now operate like film stars, starting in 1962 when Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa left The Louvre in Paris to go on display in New York, the long queues turning the masterpiece into a mere spectacle.

It is not the first time Hughes has made public his contempt for Hirst's art. Making a speech four years ago at the Royal Academy of Art's annual dinner, he said: "A string of brush marks on a lace collar in a Velazquez can be as radical as a shark that an Australian caught for a couple of Englishmen some years ago and is now murkily disintegrating in its tank on the other side of the Thames."

Monday, September 29, 2008

Stop the US / India Nuclear Deal




A year ago, the Bush Administration negotiated an agreement with India that would allow expanded trade in nuclear fuel and technology. On September 6, the international Nuclear Suppliers Group caved under U.S. pressure and approved this dangerous deal. Just this Saturday, the House of Representatives approved it. It's up to us to stop it! The Bush administration is trying to push approval of this complex and important matter through Congress in the few days left before its session ends. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party Congressional leadership seems inclined to rubber stamp the deal, despite the lack of time for study or debate in the closing days of a session dominated by a financial crisis of historic proportions. Call your Senators today!Tell them to stop the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal and to work instead for the global elimination of nulcear weapons and for safe, renewable energy alternatives.

Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121

Background:

This deal would allow India to expand its nuclear arsenal more easily by using scarce domestic uranium for weapons production while buying fuel for its power reactors on the international market. It will also undermine an already shaky Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) regime by giving a country that developed nuclear weapons outside the Treaty the benefits of international nuclear trade. In general, the deal reinforces the legitimacy of nuclear weapons and weakens global rule of law, as the United States, the world's leading military power and a country that ignores its own NPT obligations to negotiate for the elimination of its nuclear arsenal, also claims the right to choose which countries are sufficiently "responsible" to have both nuclear power and nuclear weapons.

In addition, the U.S.? India nuclear deal is an effort by elites in both countries to bolster nuclear energy programs that long have been unable to fulfill the promises made by their advocates of cheap, reliable nuclear-generated electricity. The risks posed by nuclear accidents and long-term storage of highly radioactive spent fuel remain unsolved. Expanded energy production and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions can be accomplished more flexibly and in a way that serves a broader spectrum of India's population via the development of a variety of decentralized renewable energy technologies. Trade and investment in such technologies also would benefit the United States, helping to accelerate the development and use of renewable energy here as well. For more information on the U.S.-India nuclear deal and the broader context energy and security context, see Rushing into the Wrong Future: The U.S.-India Nuclear Deal, Energy and Security, by Andrew Lichterman of the Western States Legal Foundation, Oakland, California, and M.V. Ramana of the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Environment and Development, Bangalore, India.


For more detail on the nuclear weapons proliferation impacts of the agreement, see the Arms Control Association resources at www.armscontrol.org/node/3350

Saturday, September 27, 2008

ARP live @ The Roxy tonight!!! September 27 2008







I love Arp!!! They are so great live...I can't make it to the show tonight. Hopefully you can...
9009 W Sunset BlvdWest
Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 278-9457






But Where is The White Monkey? by Tessa Laird


'...Still, I couldn’t see any evidence of the conquest, violence and humiliation that Chirac had mentioned. There was no effort to contextualise these works in a history of colonial plundering, no attempt to explain the trajectory of the objects from their sources to their current resting places...Almost all the guards are African, and almost all the visitors are white. I keep wondering what the guards really think of this situation, and about the designation of the art of their homelands as “the other.” Do they see themselves as “the other” or are they French or both? Do they feel connected to this art, or is it just a job? Are they bemused by the fascination these artefacts have for those who have little time or respect for real live Africans?' -Tessa Laird

'I experienced moments of elation and moments of a kind of dread and even nausea (perhaps it was the jetlag). I felt giddy at the enormity and weirdness of it all. Because, no matter the architecture, the multimedia, the MONEY, it was still white people looking at the sacred artefacts of non-white people for a frisson, a tingling of the nerves, a form of entertainment like any other. And while it’s an enormous privilege to be able to view such works, it’s one I’d gladly relinquish for the far greater privilege of witnessing the return of these objects, masterpieces, taonga, to their original people and contexts. In the end, I think that the only truly “modern” museum is one that repatriates its collections. Just imagine all the “going home” stories! If each one could be as detailed and magnificent as the one elucidated by Paul Tapsell in Pukaki: A Comet Returns, we would be culturally richer, not poorer, for the process. These are the stories I want to hear.' -Tessa Laird

I had read this article written by artist, curator, critic, writer, teacher Tessa Laird some time ago; I was reminded of its relevancy and importance in my cultural anthropology class recently while watching a documentary on Ishi the last Yahi.

During a time when 'indian hunting' was legal, Ishi's family (along with many other Yahi) was murdered. Their camps raided by these 'hunters' on more than one occasion the death toll rose until the remaining Yahi were forced into hiding.

During these raids much of the Yahi's belongings (bows, arrows, clothing, etc) were stolen by these murderers and sold off, along with the heads of the natives who they murdered, eventually ending up in the Natural History Museum in San Francisco's 'collection' where they were then displayed.

At one point in the documentary Ishi is asked to dress up in what is supposed to be traditional garb although it was difficult to surmise whether or not the traditional attire was Yahi. Ishi was taken out into the woods where he was asked to hunt with bow and arrow as some sort of performance. One onlooker, at the time a child, explained that looking back on that day he was sure that the bow and arrow were not Yahi (explaining why Ishi, who couldn't make a kill, seemed entirely frustrated with the situation) rather, the hunting apparatus seemed to be arbitrarily chosen from one of the museum exhibits.

Ishi also reminded me of a book that I read many years ago about the Egyptian Mummies and the abuses afflicted upon them by the Europeans and Americans. In the 1920's everything Egyptian came into fashion, the European elite threw Egyptian themed parties the highlight being the 'viewing' of the recently acquired Egyptian Mummy. In the US thousands of mummies were destroyed as they were used as fuel for train engines! Yanked from their resting places and used as either a source for cheap entertainment or fuel... It's difficult to remember that not all Egyptian mummies were of royal lineage.
'But Where is the White Monkey?' puts the acquisition of and repatriation of objects that are at once beautiful and distrubing, as the source may be questionable, into a greater context. Laird poses some ethically inspired questions while taking a stance that may not induce feelings of camaraderie among her fellow purveyors of art. In other words she is bold...
For the full article 'But Where is the White Monkey':

Friday, September 26, 2008

Vote


“The teenagers and college students who left their homes to march in the streets of Birmingham and Montgomery; the mothers who walked instead of taking the bus after a long day of doing somebody else's laundry and cleaning somebody else's kitchen — they didn't brave fire hoses and Billy clubs so that their grandchildren and their great-grandchildren would still wonder at the beginning of the 21st century whether their vote would be counted; whether their civil rights would be protected by their government; whether justice would be equal and opportunity would be theirs. . . . We have more work to do.”

— Barack Obama, Speech at Howard University, September 28, 2007

Pay Inequity Continues: For every $1.00 earned by a man, the average woman receives only 77 cents, while African American women only get 67 cents and Latinas receive only 57 cents.

Hate Crimes on the Rise: The number of hate crimes increased nearly 8 percent to 7,700 incidents in 2006.

Efforts Continue to Suppress the Vote: A recent study discovered numerous organized efforts to intimidate, mislead and suppress minority voters.

Disparities Continue to Plague Criminal Justice System: African Americans and Hispanics are more than twice as likely as whites to be searched, arrested, or subdued with force when stopped by police. Disparities in drug sentencing laws, like the differential treatment of crack as opposed to powder cocaine, are unfair.

Record of Advocacy: Obama has worked to promote civil rights and fairness in the criminal justice system throughout his career. As a community organizer, Obama helped 150,000 African Americans register to vote. As a civil rights lawyer, Obama litigated employment discrimination, housing discrimination, and voting rights cases. As a State Senator, Obama passed one of the country's first racial profiling laws and helped reform a broken death penalty system. And in the U.S. Senate, Obama has been a leading advocate for protecting the right to vote, helping to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act and leading the opposition against discriminatory barriers to voting.

For more on Barack Obama: http://www.barackobama.com/learn/meet_barack.php

If you're interested in McCain you're on your own: http://www.johnmccain.com/

Glamour of the Gods Exhibition @ Santa Barbara Museum of Art until October 5 2008


An exhibition of photographs from Glamour of the Gods will be on display at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

Glamour of the Gods is a survey of Hollywood portraiture from the industry’s golden age, the period from 1920 to 1960. All the photographs are drawn from the extraordinary archive of the John Kobal Foundation in London.

John Kobal was the last century’s pre-eminent authority on Hollywood photography and was the first collector and later author who systematically sought to understand photography’s important role in creating and marketing the great stars central to the Hollywood mystique. Garbo, Dietrich, Cooper and Bogart are among the famous faces featured and in many cases these are the career defining images of their era.

Made in Hollywood: Photographs from the John Kobal Foundation
until October 5
Santa Barbara Museum of Art
1130 State Street, Santa Barbara CA 93101-2746

Richard Avedon, Portraits of Power Exhibition @ Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington DC September 13 - January 25 2009


Richard Avedon, America's preeminent portraitist and fashion photographer, photographed the many faces of politics throughout his career. Portraits of Power brings together Avedon's political portraits for the first time. Juxtaposing images of elite government, media and labor officials with counter-cultural activists, writers and artists, as well as ordinary citizens caught up in national debates, it offers a five-decade taxonomy of politics and power by one of America's best-known artists. The book features several of Avedon's extended projects addressing these themes, including coverage of the civil rights debate in the early 1960s (published in 1964 in Nothing Personal); the American anti-war movement and the war in Vietnam from 1969-1971; portraits of the American power elite in 1976, produced for his groundbreaking Rolling Stone portfolio "The Family;" "Exiles: The Kennedy Court at the End of the American Century," a retrospective homage to the Camelot generation published in the New Yorker in 1993; and his final photo-essay, "Democracy," surveying the national mood during the politically fractious period prior to the 2004presidential elections (published posthumously in the New Yorker in 2004).

Richard Avedon (1923-2004) was the most successful fashion photographer and portraitist in America throughout a six-decade career. Serving in the Merchant Marines during World War II, Avedon was assigned to the photography unit and learned his trade making identification portraits. After the war, he found work as a photographer for Harper's Bazaar and Theater Arts and began a fruitful apprenticeship with legendary editor, designer and artist Alexey Brodovitch. Avedon invigorated the staid fashion photography of the time, staging fictional tableaux and developing an unprecedented theatrical style. Moving to Vogue in 1966 and the New Yorker in 1993, Avedon continued to innovate. Extraordinarily prolific throughout his career, he produced many books, among them Nothing Personal (1964), An Autobiography (1993) and The Sixties (1999).

Corcoran Gallery of Art
500 Seventeenth Street NW
Washington, DC 20006

My America: Christopher Morris Exhibition and Book Signing @ Host gallery, London


Christopher Morris Exhibition and Book Signing

To coincide with the run up to the US presidential election on November 4th Steidl and HOST gallery present My America an exhibition of photogrpahs by Christopher Morris.

Bringing together work from his coverage of both the first and second presidential campaign trails of President George W Bush, as well as work from the recent campaigns of both Barack Obama and John McCain, Morris’s privileged viewpoint offers a penetrating doubletake, operating in the space between the sleek and the stark.
Rather than focus on individual politicians, Morris’s photographs concentrate on both the details of this staged pageantry that is the campaign machine as well as the devotees of these potential administrations. With his icy clarity he captures scenarios often intimate and sometimes alien; from the cherry-red lips of a supporter in the crowd, frozen in awe, to a secret service agent standing, his back to camera, in an empty concrete basement. This is the work of a man rediscovering his country, observing its people blinded by the glaring light of nationalism.

Exhibition at HOST Gallery, October 3 to November 15, 2008
Private view
Thursday 2 October, 2008 from 6.30pm
HOST GALLERY, 1 Honduras Street, London, EC1Y 0TH

Please join us for the private view of My America by Christopher Morris, the artist will be present on the evening.

Please RSVP to rsvp@hostgallery.co.uk
Related Events
Friday, October 3, 6.30pm - Christopher Morris will discuss his work and present his short film
Thursday, October 30, 7pm - Screening of American Psyche (2007) directed by Paul van den Boom

Burn After Reading



So my man and I went to the movies today where we saw 'Burn After Reading'...

I happen to be a very big fan of the Coen brothers; as far as I'm concerned they can do no wrong. Burn After Reading is proof of that.

There were only about ten people in the theater and only three of those folks, myself and my man included, laughed throughout the duration of the film. That can only mean one of two things the first being, the movie sucks and I have really bad taste in film or I have great taste in film and everybody else has a shitty sense of humor. It's debatable. The same thing happened when I went to the theater to see Cable Guy so there you go...

Stem Cells Without Side Effects by Lauren Gravitz



These photos of stem cells are so beautiful the first one reminds me of opal on fire and the second one reminds me of kryptonite from the Superman with Christopher Reeves.
According to Technology Review published by MIT...

Last year, researchers announced one of the most promising methods yet for creating ethically neutral stem cells: reprogramming adult human cells to act like embryonic stem cells. This involved using four transcription factor proteins to turn specific genes on and off. But the resulting cells, called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells for their ability to develop into just about any tissue, have one huge flaw. They're made with a virus that embeds itself into the cells' DNA and, over time, can induce cancer. Now, scientists at Harvard University have found a way to effect the same reprogramming without using a harmful virus--a method that paves the way for tissue transplants made from a patient's own cells.

The first generation of iPS cells was created using a retrovirus to insert the four transcription factors into skin cells. Because a retrovirus, by definition, inserts itself permanently into its host's DNA, this ensured that the transcription factors were transferred,, but it also led to the propagation of the virus itself. Furthermore, since the virus confers self-renewal capabilities to its new host cell, many believed that the retrovirus might be required for iPS cells to reproduce.

New research by Konrad Hochedlinger and his colleagues at Harvard University, the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, and the MGH Center for Regenerative Medicine shows that a different type of virus--an adenovirus--can make the transfer in mouse cells without permanently integrating itself. The resulting iPS cells can divide indefinitely but show no trace of the virus--just a temporary infection that disappears within a short time. "That means that the four transcription factors themselves are sufficient to induce pluripotency in adult cells," Hochedlinger says.

Many view the creation of genetically unmodified iPS cells as regenerative medicine's magic bullet. The cells are not derived from embryos, so researchers can circumnavigate the ethical gray areas. And if these cells turn out to be as potent as embryonic stem cells, they could be used to help regrow tissues damaged in conditions ranging from paralysis to Parkinson's disease to diabetes. If they can be grown from a patient's own cells, they could furthermore be transplanted without triggering immune rejection...

The above is an excerpt, for the full article please see:

http://www.technologyreview.com/Biotech/21430/

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Peace Action: Keeping the Peace with Iran


According to Peace Action...

For nearly three years, Peace Action has been a leader in preventing the Bush Administration from attacking Iran. In 2006, we coordinated a meeting of key nonprofit leaders and founded the Iran Policy Working Group - a group of over 100 leaders that share information and strategy. Additionally, three Peace Action members, including myself, traveled with delegations to Iran to practice citizen to citizen diplomacy.

Peace Action spearheaded the grassroots effort for peace with our petition demanding a diplomatic solution. Almost 100,000 of you joined our campaign and our strength has made an impact. The signatures on this petition helped our members lobby against the now controversial H.Con.Res. 362, a saber-rattling resolution that reiterates the threat of a U.S.strike on Iran.

Will you help me keep this issue in front of voters in the final weeks to Election Day?

Because of this work, the Fellowship of Reconciliation invited Peace Action to join over 100 leaders to meet with the President of Iran yesterday, September 24, 2008. When I went to Iran I got to meet with one of the eleven Vice Presidents. I learned then that Iranian politicians like to talk in religious platitudes. President Ahmadinejad is no different.

Once he started answering questions, he reiterated many things I've heard before. It is under reported that Iran has a religious fatwa against nuclear weapons. In other words, it is against Islamic law to possess nuclear weapons. On the issue of war, he stated, "Iran will not seek war with anyone." This is not surprising as Iran has not attacked another country in hundreds years. The President also echoed our call to bring on the troops home from Iraq.

Ahmadinejad promised to push for more talks and exchanges between our two countries as well as making it easier for Americans to get visas in hopes that the U.S. will make it easier for Iranians. We in the American peace movement need to stay on top of the situation, now, and especially after Bush leaves office.

Today I'm asking you to stick with Peace Action as we make war and peace an issue for voters in the final push before the election and for the next administration.

Our work, here and abroad, is only possible with your support. Even as we make final preparation for Election Day, we're outlining a set of demands for the next President.

If you'd like to donate or sign-up for emails that will keep you in the know:

http://www.peace-action.org/joinpa.html

THE VISIONARY STATE: A JOURNEY THROUGH CALIFORNIA'S SPIRITUAL LANDSCAPE by Erik Davis


California is famous for its diversity, its eccentricity, and its prophetic influence on popular culture. Since the 19th century, the Golden State has also been one of America’s most fertile climates for spiritual and religious movements. Beautifully weaving together text and image, The Visionary State is the first book to address the full story of “California consciousness.” Ranging from Yosemite to Esalen, from televangelism to Neopaganism, from Mormon pioneers to contemporary Kali worshippers, acclaimed culture critic Erik Davis weaves together the threads of California’s religious history into an enchanting and vivid tapestry. Michael Rauner’s haunting iconic photographs ground the book’s many stories in the sacred landscape and architecture of the Golden State. Together Davis and Rauner map the peaks and faultlines that characterize the place that is both the nexus and far frontier of American religion.

'US drone crashes' in Pakistan


According to Al Jazeera...

An unmanned drone aircraft has crashed in northwest Pakistan's South Waziristan region, according to Pakistan's military.

The army did not identify where the drone had come from but earlier reports from security officials and local media had said it was operated by the US military.

"A surveillance unmanned aerial vehicle while flying over Pak-Afghan border yesterday night crash landed, on this side of the border ... apparently due to malfunctioning," the Pakistani army said in a statement on Wednesday.

"The wreckage ... has been recovered."

The incident could escalate tensions between the two allies as Islamabad has been criticised a series of recent US attacks targeting suspected al-Qaeda and pro-Taliban fighters inside Pakistan.

A number of sites have been hit by missiles from pilotless drones, while on September 3 a ground assault by US commandos killed 20 people, including women and children, according to Pakistani officials.

Lieutenant-Colonel Mark Wright, a US Pentagon spokesman, said it had "no reports of any loss of DoD [department of defence] drones".

The CIA declined to comment.

'No firing heard'

But senior Pakistani security official said that the drone, which did not disintegrate when it crashed, was believed to have been American.

"Tribesmen picked it up and then Pakistani security forces retrieved it. No firing was heard in the area so there is no question of it being shot down," he told the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity.

Dawn News, one of several Pakistani channels reporting the incident, said security forces had found the wreckage of the drone 8km from Angor Adda, near the village of Jalal Khel, and 3km from the border with Afghanistan.

Angor Adda was the site of the US commando raid in September.

'Sovereign right'

Before meeting Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan's president, in New York on Tuesday, George Bush, the US president, said that Washington wanted to help in Pakistan.

"Your words have been very strong about Pakistan's sovereign right and sovereign duty to protect your country, and the United States wants to help," he said, referring to Zardari.

Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, said that Washington would continue to take military action in Pakistan and called for co-operation from the government in Islamabad.

"I think it is essential for Pakistan to be a willing partner in any strategy we have to deal with the threat coming out of the western part of Pakistan and the eastern part of Afghanistan," Gates said, expressing hope for "an even stronger partnership" with Zardari.

Pakistan's support is regarded as crucial to the success of US-led forces trying to stabilise Afghanistan and fight al-Qaeda in the region.

But Pakistanis have become increasing angered over the heightened use of drones and ground units in the area bordering Afghanistan.

Pakistanis were outraged by the US September 3 raid - the first known ground assault by US troops into Pakistan - and the six-month-old civilian government issued a diplomatic protest.

General Ashfaq Kayani, Pakistan's army chief, said foreign troops would not be allowed on Pakistani soil and Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity would be defended at all costs.

Residents and some security officers said Pakistani troops fired on two US helicopters that crossed the border near Angor Adda a week ago, forcing them to turn back.

Pakistan and the United States denied the reports.

Publisher Who Fought Puritanism, and Won by Charles McGrath


According to the New York Times...

In its heyday during the 1960s, Grove Press was famous for publishing books nobody else would touch. The Grove list included writers like Samuel Beckett, Jean Genet, William S. Burroughs, Che Guevara and Malcolm X, and the books, with their distinctive black-and-white covers, were reliably ahead of their time and often fascinated by sex.

The same was, and is, true of Grove’s maverick publisher, Barney Rosset, who loved highbrow literature but also brought out a very profitable line of Victorian spanking porn.

On Nov. 19 Mr. Rosset will receive a lifetime achievement award from the National Book Foundation in honor of his many contributions to American publishing, especially his groundbreaking legal battles to print uncensored versions of “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” and Henry Miller’s “Tropic of Cancer.” He is also the subject of “Obscene,” a documentary by Neil Ortenberg and Daniel O’Connor, which opens on Friday at Cinema Village.

Mr. Ortenberg and Mr. O’Connor are themselves refugees from book publishing, and this is their first film. “Barney was basically my idol, my mentor and my role model for most of my publishing career,” said Mr. Ortenberg, who used to run Thunder’s Mouth Press, publisher of, among other books, “The Outlaw Bible of American Literature.” “I just thought, here was a great story about a major cultural impresario most people don’t know about. It was just dumb beginner’s luck, I guess. I had had a lot of experience with intellectual content, and I knew something about editing, and the movie was small enough that whatever mistakes we made, they didn’t wind up costing huge amounts. We learned as we went along.”

The documentary has a literary rock score — songs by Bob Dylan, the Doors, Warren Zevon and Patti Smith — and includes, in addition to the usual talking heads, some surprising archival footage. There’s an excerpt from Al Goldstein’s old cable television show, “Midnight Blue,” in which Mr. Goldstein quizzes Mr. Rosset about his four marriages and in general interviews him not as a major cultural figure but as a fellow smut peddler. There are clips of Europe that Mr. Rosset filmed as a teenager (his father, unfortunately, instructed him to keep the camera moving constantly), some footage he took during World War II and some poignant home movies of Mr. Rosset cavorting with his family on his Hamptons estate. Mr. Rosset, who made and squandered several fortunes, eventually had to unload the place to cover his losses.

“I had a very good publishing career, but not money-wise,” he once said. “We got rid of the money.”

The documentary makes the point that Mr. Rosset originally wanted to be a filmmaker himself. He grew up in Chicago, the son of a banker, and went to the Francis W. Parker School, a place so progressive that according to Mr. Rosset, the teachers arranged for the students to sleep with one another.

His best friend there was Haskell Wexler, the great cinematographer. Mr. Rosset was an Army photographer during the war and afterward made a documentary, called “Strange Victory,” about how America, though victorious on the world stage, was still losing the war against racism at home.

In 1951 Mr. Rosset got into publishing by accident when, at the suggestion of his ex-wife, he took over a stillborn company called Grove Press, whose entire list consisted of three reprints: Melville’s novel “The Confidence Man,” some writings by Aphra Behn and a volume of poems by Richard Crashaw. He quickly turned the company into what he later called “a breach in the dam of American Puritanism — a whiplashing live cable of zeitgeist.”

And yet, as the documentary suggests, he never completely lost his infatuation with film, and in the end it helped bring the company down. In the late ’60s Mr. Rosset made a killing distributing the sexually explicit Swedish film “I Am Curious (Yellow),” and he thought he could repeat the trick with other European imports, none of which found much of an audience. He also made some bad real estate decisions and in 1985 was forced to sell Grove, though he hung on to his magazine, Evergreen Review, which he continues to publish online at evergreenreview.com.

Now 86 and a little shrunken, Mr. Rosset, who has just finished writing an autobiography, lives with Astrid Myers in a fourth-floor walkup near Union Square. There is a pool table in the living room, and the walls are lined with loose-leaf binders containing Grove-related photos and correspondence. Over a rum and Coke the other evening, Mr. Rosset recalled that in the famous 1959 obscenity case he had used “Lady Chatterley” as a kind of stalking horse for Miller’s “Tropic of Cancer,” a book he had discovered in college but whose raunchiness he thought would have a much tougher time in the courts.

“I loved that book,” he said. “When I was a young man, it never occurred to me that it was about sex. What interested me was that Miller didn’t like Americans very much.”

He went to California to meet Miller, Mr. Rosset recalled, and Miller refused to sell him the rights. “He had all sorts of silly reasons,” Mr. Rosset said. “Too many people would have it. It might become a college textbook.” Mr. Rosset eventually secured the book through the intervention of Maurice Girodias, the publisher of the Olympia Press in Paris, and Heinrich Ledig-Rowohlt, Miller’s German publisher.

In 1961 he set about the very expensive business of fighting for the book in the courts. “The greatest joy that came out of my life in publishing was when ‘Tropic of Cancer’ went on trial in Chicago,” Mr. Rosset said. “The judge was a friend of my father’s, and at one point when the prosecutor accused me of just trying to make money, I took out my Henry Miller term paper from Swarthmore College and read from it. I remember leaving the courtroom and somehow getting lost going home. It was snowing. But I was so happy that I thought, ‘If I fall down and die right here, it will be fine.’ ”

Mr. Rosset went on: “All my life I followed the things that I liked — people, things, books — and when things were offered to me, I published them. I never did anything I really didn’t like. I had no set plan, but on the other hand we sometimes found ourselves on a trail. For example, out of Beckett came Pinter, and Pinter was responsible for Mamet. It was like a baseball team — Mamet to Pinter to Beckett.”

Mr. Rosset sipped from his drink and smiled. “Should we have had more of a business plan?” he added. “Probably. But then the publishers that did have business plans didn’t do any better.”

Unfortunately the film isn't available from Netflix. If I can find it I will post where / how to view the film.

Cuba Libre: Rum, Revolution and a Family Tale by Barry Gewen


According to the New York Times...

Americans have been on a death watch for quite a while now, without really paying a whole lot of attention. Yet once Fidel Castro passes from the scene, and the regime he founded collapses — in a few years? months? days? — the United States will inevitably become involved in setting the terms for Cuba’s future. So this is a particularly appropriate time to learn something about Cuba’s past.

BACARDI AND THE LONG FIGHT FOR CUBA

The Biography of a Cause

By Tom Gjelten

Fernando Ariza/The New York Times:

There’s a shelf of histories to consult. But it’s hard to imagine that any is as enjoyable as “Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba” by Tom Gjelten, a correspondent for National Public Radio. His book is as smooth and refreshing as a well-made daiquiri.

Mr. Gjelten has had the brilliant idea of telling Cuba’s story through a family and a business that have been at the center of that country for as long as there has been a country, indeed even longer. As Mr. Gjelten writes, and succeeds in proving, “the history of Cuba can be narrated around tales of rum.”

The Bacardi Rum Company was founded by a Catalan merchant in 1862, when Cuba was still a Spanish colony. In the decades that followed his heirs were deeply involved in the struggle for independence, in Cuba’s tortured relationship with the United States, in the rollicking era when Havana was “the Las Vegas of the Caribbean,” in the Castro revolution that overthrew the dictator Fulgencio Batista and in the battle that continues today against Mr. Castro from Miami and other places of exile.

Teddy Roosevelt goes charging through these pages. Meyer Lansky casts a shadow as Batista’s “gambling adviser.” Frank Sinatra drops by to sing a song or two. The great Puerto Rican leader Luis Muñoz Marín puts in an all-too-brief appearance. Ernest Hemingway downs his favorite drink, daiquiris made with Bacardi rum.

What makes Mr. Gjelten’s book such a standout is its quality of subjectivity. Presenting his history through the lives of people who affected the events they personally experienced and were in turn affected by them, he gives us drama, not chronology or statistics. Sometimes he dutifully draws back to provide necessary commercial detail about Bacardi, and at those moments the book risks dwindling into a standard business history of a little company and how it grew.

But Mr. Gjelten always returns to the individual family members for a fresh burst of narrative energy. Two, one influential in the 19th century, the other in the 20th, are particularly extraordinary: Emilio Bacardi Moreau, a son of the founder, who risked his business and his life for the cause of Cuban independence, and José (Pepín) Bosch, who led the company for a quarter-century and who first backed Mr. Castro, then became one of his most determined, and most powerful, enemies.

The 24-year-old Emilio Bacardi supported the first Cuban war of independence in 1868, and with its failure became an active revolutionary, smuggling arms and raising money for rebels in the hills. He was an abolitionist when the sugar economy of Cuba depended on slavery, a freethinker who questioned Jesus’ divinity, despite the power of the Roman Catholic Church on the island. Twice he was arrested, and spent years in Spanish prisons. Yet he ran a successful business, his rum gaining in popularity and winning medals in international competitions while he fought Spain. He also wrote novels.

After the Spanish-American War of 1898, Bacardi worked in uneasy alliance with the American occupation army. (Readers may be forgiven if they see certain similarities to the confusions and contradictions in present-day Iraq.) In 1901 Bacardi was elected mayor of his hometown, Santiago, and then to the Cuban Senate. But the political pressures and counterpressures proved too much for him, and as his country descended into chaos, he abandoned public life to concentrate on the family business and his literary pursuits. Before his death in 1922, he compiled a 10-volume collection of annotated documents, a classic work titled “Crónicas de Santiago de Cuba.”

In summarizing Bacardi’s life, Mr. Gjelten writes, “Though his name is mentioned in few Cuban history books, Emilio Bacardi Moreau was a rare example of enlightened and responsible civic leadership in Cuba at a time when such men were in short supply.”

José (Pepín) Bosch demonstrated the same heroic commitment to civic responsibility under very different circumstances. Married to the founder’s granddaughter, he served as the Cuban finance minister before being selected to run the company in 1951. After Batista seized power a year later, Bosch became an opposition leader, one of the few businessmen to call for a restoration of democracy.

Like Emilio Bacardi almost a century earlier, he risked everything for his ideals; in 1957 his son was briefly arrested by Batista’s military police. Soon Bosch was raising funds for Mr. Castro, and when the revolutionaries victoriously entered Havana in the first days of 1959, they could count Bosch and the Bacardi family among their most prominent supporters.

There are no more dramatic sections in Mr. Gjelten’s book than those recounting Bosch’s gradual disillusionment with Mr. Castro. First came the firing squads; then the growing centralization of power; then the removal of moderates, including some of Bosch’s friends, from the government; then the suppression of the news media and the jailing of dissidents; finally the confiscations of “bourgeois” property. In July 1960 Bosch and his wife, Enriqueta, left for Miami, never again to set foot in Cuba. He died in 1994.

During Bosch’s years in exile, his story and that of his company take on uncomfortable ambiguities. Bosch became linked to at least one terrorist, who thought the way to fight Mr. Castro was to blow up airplanes, and there are suggestions of Mafia ties as well. In Cuba Bacardi had enjoyed a reputation as a socially conscious, progressive employer, but in the United States Bosch’s closest political allies were right-wingers like Jesse Helms. When three of Tom DeLay’s aides were indicted for violating campaign-finance laws, Bacardi was one of several companies indicted with them.

For almost a century and a half, Mr. Gjelten shows, the Bacardi company and the Bacardi family strenuously associated themselves with what they saw as “the Cuban cause.” In recent years they identified that cause almost entirely with the overthrow of Fidel Castro, to the exclusion of just about anything else. Now Mr. Castro’s end is in sight. Yet it’s not clear who or what will replace him, or how, and so Mr. Gjelten is forced to conclude his book on an uncertain note.

Once Cuba produced remarkable, heroic men like Emilio Bacardi and Pepín Bosch. But today, Mr. Gjelten writes, the idea of the Cuban cause is “no longer clear,” and the heroes for a post-Castro Cuba are nowhere in sight.

An Excerpt From the Book:

A bottle of white Bacardi rum sold in the United States bears a small logo—mysteriously, a bat—and a label that says “Established 1862.” Just above the date are the words “PUERTO RICAN RUM.” There is no mention of Cuba.

The Bacardi distillery in San Juan is the largest in the world, but the Bacardis are not from Puerto Rico. This family company for nearly a century was Cuban, cubanísima in fact—Cuban to the nth degree. In the middle of the nineteenth century, Don Facundo Bacardi, the company founder and family patriarch, pioneered Cuban-style rum, lighter and drier than the rough spirit that preceded it. Bacardi rum became the drink of choice on the island just as Cuba was becoming a nation. Bacardi sons and daughters were famous for their patriotism, standing up first against Spanish tyranny and then, in the next century, against the island’s home-grown dictators. The family company played another supporting role as Cuba established its cultural identity, becoming the leading corporate patron of Cuban baseball and salsa music. Bacardi was Ernest Hemingway’s rum and the rum of the Cuban casino crowd. When Fidel Castro launched his uprising in the mountains outside Santiago de Cuba, their hometown, the Bacardis cheered him on. They did not abandon Castro so much as they were abandoned by him; they left Cuba only after the revolutionary government expropriated their rum business. Nearly fifty years later, the family name is still revered on the island, and the Bacardis are thinking about making rum there again.

Over many tellings, the Cuba story has hardened around a few stale themes—Havana in its debauchedheyday or Fidel Castro and his dour revolution—and it has lost much of its vitality and wholeness. This book originated in my search for a new narrative, with new Cuban characters and a plot that does justice to this island that produced the conga line and “Guantanamera” as well as Che Guevara’s five-year-plans. I have tried to give a nuanced view of the nation’s experience over the last century and a half. Cuban history was not preordained. There were choices made and paths not taken, and the men and women who were excluded and then exiled deserve to have their contributions recognized, if only to understand why so many became so angry. The Bacardi saga serves all these purposes.

For Cubans, patriotism began with the effort of poets and intellectuals to define the idea of a distinctly Cuban people out of the mix of Europeans, Africans, and natives who inhabited the island. Cuba then needed to free itself from three centuries of harsh Spanish rule and the dominating U.S. influence and become a sovereign, viable, and honorable country. Given the island’s cultural mix and plantation-based social structure, this fight necessarily incorporated a struggle for racial equality and economic justice, but it cannot be reduced to a story that ends inevitably with Fidel Castro’s socialist revolution. Other threads can guide us, such as that of the Bacardi family in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba, the cradle of Cuban nationalism.

There was a time when no name in Santiago carried more prestige. Emilio Bacardi, the son of the patriarch Don Facundo, spent much of his adult life conspiring against Spanish rule and later served as Santiago’s first Cuban mayor. Emilio’s own son Emilito fought heroically in Cuba’s war for independence. But the Bacardis were also remembered in Santiago for their class and character. While they lived in elegant homes, rode in chauffeured carriages, and sent their children to exclusive private schools, they were also known as good Santiago citizens, generous and warm-hearted and fair. And they loved to party. The Bacardis probably contributed more than any other local family to Santiago’s reputation as a playful, joyous city with a vibrant night life. There was no festival in Santiago without Bacardi rum.

In Fidel Castro’s revised version of Cuban history, the era before his revolution was characterized mainly by decadence, and the country’s elites were corrupt. The Bacardis are barely mentioned, because their record of patriotism and integrity does not match the Castro stereotype. Their family business was widely recognized as among the best run enterprises in Cuba, and the company management was known for progressive policies and good labor relations. The Bacardi chairman in the 1950s, José “Pepín” Bosch (married to the founder’s granddaughter), served for a time as Cuba’s Finance Minister and broke precedent by pursuing wealthy tax cheats. When Castro went to Washington, D.C., shortly after taking power, Bosch was the one Cuban businessman he brought with him. Their break came after Castro embraced socialism; the Bacardi example had inconveniently demonstrated that there actually were capitalists who could play a responsible role in a democratic Cuba.

I do not, however, propose the Bacardis as would-be saviors of Cuba. The Bacardi story appeals to me in part simply because it contains so many critical but unfamiliar elements of the modern Cuban drama. At every stage of the nation’s development over the past century and a half, there is some Bacardi angle, some family member who is a key witness or behind-the-scenes player, or some Bacardi-related episode that epitomizes the historic moment. Countless families in eastern Cuba, for example, shared their Catalan and French roots, and by making and selling rum from Cuban molasses, the Bacardis pursued an enterprise tied directly to the country’s social and economic development. They came of age with the Cuban nation, and the epic tale of their lives and adventures across several generations features classic Cuban themes: revolution, romance, partying, and intrigue.

After Fidel Castro ordered the confiscation of their property and made clear they and others like them were no longer welcome in the new Cuba, the Bacardis left the island, rebuilding their rum enterprise through their operations in Puerto Rico and Mexico. In exile, they took on a new leadership role, this time as organizers and financiers of the anti-Castro opposition. Fidel lost an important ally when he pushed the Bacardis out, and he gained a determined adversary. The Bacardi-Castro conflict came to symbolize the division of the Cuban nation and the rival claims on the country’s history. In the first years of the twenty-first century, when the burning Cuban question was what would follow the Castro era, the Bacardis were once again players. Few products are so associated with Cuba as rum, and the family that made Cuban rum famous was anxious to reclaim a piece of that industry, one of the few on the island with promising growth prospects no matter who was in charge.

There is another story buried in this tale, too. Just as Bacardi history helps explain modern Cuba, the company’s Cuba connection helps us trace the evolution of a unique family firm. Bacardi Limited entered the twenty-first century as a genuine multinational, headquartered in Bermuda, with a product line that included whisky, gin, vermouth, vodka, and tequila, as well as rum. It nevertheless remained a private business wholly owned by a single family still feeling its Cuban identity. Its evolution reflects the strengths—and also the risks and challenges—of a closed, dynastic enterprise in an interconnected global economy. The company’s sense of heritage helped it survive after the loss of its Cuban headquarters, but there was inevitable tension between the old political values and the new focus on investment returns. On the eve of the post-Castro era, the Bacardi-Cuba connection set up a test that would reveal how the company had changed over the years: If it went back to Cuba—as it said it would—would it prove to be just another big, soulless corporation vying for a piece of the action, or would it return as the family company playing a patriotic role?

The most distinctive element on a bottle of Bacardi rum is the peculiar icon at the top of the label: a black bat inscribed in a red circle. The bat’s wings are outstretched, and its head is turned slightly to one side, highlighting its big eyes and pointy ears. No marketing executive today would allow such a creepy image to identify a popular brand. But the Bacardi symbol dates from an era when bats were viewed more tenderly, and the story of its adoption reflects the company’s humble Cuban origins. Santiago was a small city full of merchants, slaves, and traders. Don Facundo’s home-made rum was occasionally sold in recycled olive oil tins that came with a picture of a bat on the side. As Bacardi rum gained in popularity, some customers in Santiago referred to it as el ron del murciélago, “the rum of the bat,” and the association took hold.

For good reason. The bat was a symbol of good fortune, and it figured prominently in the heraldry of Don Facundo’s native Catalonia. As creatures, bats exemplified the ideal of brotherhood, because they lived and flew together; they symbolized self-confidence, because they could fly in the dark without hitting anything; they stood for discretion, because they kept silent; and they represented faithfulness, because they always returned home.

Guggenheim Chooses a Curator, Not a Showman by Carol Vogel


According to the New York Times...

After a seven-month search, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation on Tuesday named Richard Armstrong of the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh as its next director.

Skip to next paragraph

Annie Tritt for The New York Times
An installation by Jenny Holzer illuminated the restored Guggenheim on Monday night.
Mr. Armstrong, 59, who has been director of the Carnegie for 12 years, succeeds Thomas Krens, who announced in February that he was stepping down after nearly 20 years.

In a decision that was widely reported in the art world, Guggenheim trustees settled on Mr. Armstrong in late August but did not vote formally until its board meeting on Tuesday afternoon. Their choice appears to signal a distinct change in style for the Guggenheim, whose international ambitions under Mr. Krens have stirred some conflict within the institution in recent years.

“We were looking for someone with a passion for art who understood that the New York museum is at the center of our universe,” said Jennifer Blei Stockman, president of the Guggenheim’s board.

Under the long tenure of the provocative Mr. Krens, the Guggenheim transformed itself into a global brand with branches in Berlin, Venice and Bilbao, Spain, as well as a planned museum in Abu Dhabi that is expected to open in 2013. Now the Guggenheim seems eager for a more centered presence.

“We interviewed a lot of young avant-garde European and American museum directors and thought, do we want another maverick who puts their stamp on the museum or a seasoned expert who is a wise adult and who would put the needs of the institution and the staff first?” Ms. Stockman said in a telephone interview.

Mr. Armstrong, who assumes the post on Nov. 4, will nonetheless be responsible for the foundation’s global network of museums as well as its New York headquarters.

Just as the Metropolitan Museum selected a highly respected curator this month to be its next director, naming Thomas P. Campbell, a noted scholar, to succeed Philippe de Montebello, the Guggenheim’s search committee opted for a leader with a long curatorial history rather than a professional administrator or a fund-raising wizard.

Before he was named director of the Carnegie in 1996, Mr. Armstrong served there for four years, initially as a curator for contemporary art and then as the chief contemporary-art curator. In 1995 he organized the centennial version of the Carnegie International, a sprawling contemporary survey show.

Mr. Armstrong is also deeply familiar with New York’s museum culture. He worked at the Whitney Museum of American Art from 1981 to 1992 in curatorial posts and as senior instructor of its Independent Study Program. He helped organize three of the Whitney’s Biennials — in 1987, 1989 and 1991 — along with a 1991 exhibition devoted to the sculptor Alexis Smith and other shows.

Sipping tea during an interview in the Carlyle Hotel, Mr. Armstrong who like Mr. Krens is tall and strapping at 6 feet 5 inches tall, said he saw his role as one of “empowering curators.”

Mr. Krens was often criticized for organizing exhibitions that were so sweeping in theme that they sometimes lacked sharp scholarly focus, like “Africa: The Art of a Continent” in 1996, “China: 5,000 Years” in 1998 and “Brazil: Body & Soul” in 2001. Some faulted him for unconventional shows like “The Art of the Motorcycle” in 1998 and “Giorgio Armani” in 2000.

Mr. Armstrong said it was “unlikely” that he would pursue that type of programming. He said he did not know Mr. Krens and had not yet consulted with him about the Guggenheim.

As director, he said, one of his aims will be to draw on the Guggenheim’s rich permanent collection as well as to present shows exploring what young artists are doing today.

“I remember when I was growing up the Guggenheim was frequently the source for enlightenment about European art, and then it had an edge for accommodating new, younger artists,” he said.

Today, Mr. Armstrong said, he finds the Guggenheim’s interest in Asia “and I hope Latin America” exciting. He said he was attracted by the museum’s “ability to bring information to the public that might otherwise be overlooked.”

Born in Kansas City, Mo., Mr. Armstrong studied art history at Lake Forest College in Illinois and said he was deeply influenced there by Franz Schulze, a historian of Modern architecture who he said helped him appreciate art as well.

Mr. Armstrong studied in France at the University of Dijon and then the Sorbonne in Paris. “It was in France that I started looking at art more seriously,” he said. “By the time I left I was pretty well hooked.”

But his first memory of looking at art dates from when he was living in Washington in his early teens. “I would go to museums because they were air-conditioned,” he said. “I particularly remember a painting by Arthur Dove at the Phillips Collection.”

The Guggenheim has just completed a sweeping renovation of the facade of its 1959 Frank Lloyd Wright building. (To mark the occasion, a light projection by the artist Jenny Holzer made its debut on the facade Monday night and will appear each Friday night through December.)

Mr. Armstrong is no stranger to renovations. At the Carnegie he oversaw the refurbishing of several of the museum’s exhibition spaces, including the Scaife Galleries and the Heinz Galleries and an expansion of the Heinz Architectural Center. He was also responsible for acquisitions like “Untitled (Domestic),” a monumental 2002 sculptural installation by the British artist Rachel Whiteread that the Carnegie bought jointly with the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo.

In June Mr. Armstrong announced that he would resign as the Carnegie’s director. “I slowly had come to the conclusion that I should wrap things up,” he said, adding that he wanted to give his successor a long lead time to organize the next Carnegie International, tentatively scheduled for 2012-2013.

Although had not lined up a job, he said, he had had one “casual conversation” with the Guggenheim before he resigned.

Mr. Armstrong said he hoped to bolster the Guggenheim’s online presence to help lure younger audiences to the museum. “It’s their portal to knowledge,” he said. “We’ve got a generation that knows all about Paris Hilton but nothing about Paris. That needs to be enriched and brought back into alignment.”

He said that while he dislikes using the term “permanent collection” because it “turns everyone off,” he hopes to find ways of re-interpreting the Guggenheim’s holdings in eye-opening ways.

“That’s one of the things you want to reassert especially to young people, who think everything is disposable,” he said. “One of the charms of the museum is being able to go back time and again and see the same works in the same place month after month, year after year.”

“Those talismans,” Mr. Armstrong said, “are extremely useful to people’s development.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: September 25, 2008
Because of an editing error, an article on Wednesday about Richard Armstrong, the next director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, misstated the date of the next Carnegie International, an exhibition organized by the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, where Mr. Armstrong is the director. (Mr. Armstrong, who announced his resignation from the Carnegie in June, said he wanted to give his successor there sufficient time to organize the next international.) It is tentatively scheduled for 2012-13, not 2010. The current Carnegie International continues through Jan. 11.

LeWitt panels painted over at SFMOMA by Sam Whiting



According to the SF Chronicle...

It is a tough concept to grasp - that a painting is still a painting even at the moment it is being painted over. But there it was, Wednesday morning, a set of two-story wall drawings by Sol LeWitt being primed in white and rolled over with heavy gray.

There went the two most prominent pieces of art in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the only one viewable without the encumbrance of buying a $12.50 ticket. The paintings, "Wall Drawing #935" and "Wall Drawing #936," each measuring 29 by 32 feet, had been there on temporary display that lasted eight years. The panels, one stripes and one arcs in a repeating pattern of yellow, purple, green, orange, red and blue, fit so well on either side of the black granite staircase that LeWitt had become wallpaper.

"It brightens the whole place," said Mari Saegusa, a San Francisco printmaker who visits SFMOMA seven times a year, most recently on Tuesday, the final day for "Wall Drawings #935 and #936." "I had no idea," she said when told the wall drawings were coming down. "It goes with the building. I thought it would always be here."

The wall drawings were never meant to last this long, according to SFMOMA curator Gary Garrels. He should know, because he commissioned them in the first place, as the marquee to a LeWitt retrospective in 1999. They instantly seemed to belong in the atrium, and late benefactor Phyllis Wattis purchased them in 2000 as a going-away gift for Garrels when he decamped for five years at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, followed by three at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.

Garrels has come back as Elise S. Haas Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture. He was reinstalled this month, only to find that those LeWitts still hadn't been de-installed. The timing was coincidental. Early this year, a caucus of curators at SFMOMA decided to reinvigorate the entryway.

"Some people have already expressed disappointment that they will be painted out," he said. "If people want to blame me, that's fine. But I had no part in the decision."

Garrels does not concern himself with the vagaries of market value, but Jeffrey Fraenkel of Fraenkel Gallery, which works closely with the LeWitt estate, said, "Those two wall drawings are major works that summarize several of LeWitt's ideas. Something like that would almost certainly be in the seven-figure range."

The seven figures are in a certificate of sole right to reproduce. This is what the museum owns, and it can have "Wall Drawings #935" and "#936" repainted at any time anywhere in any size, so long as it is to scale, and the artist's written instructions are followed. LeWitt's own brushwork never was part of the program. He didn't touch anything, and never insinuated that he did.

"The art part of it is LeWitt's concept, and the concept is documented" says Fraenkel, who has a LeWitt wall drawing in his home. "No LeWitt drawings have been done by him. They have always been painted by his assistants."

LeWitt, who died last year at 78, is still creating art. At the same time the two wall drawings at SFMOMA are being obliterated, 100 more are going up at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. These will take up more wall space - nearly an acre of it, covering three stories of a mill building - and last longer: 25 years. The LeWitt industry at work can be seen at www.massmoca.org.

"The system is the work of art; the visual work of art is the proof of the system" was how LeWitt put it. "The visual aspect can't be understood without understanding the system. It isn't what it looks like but what it is that is of basic importance."

What it is will be nothing until February, when the panels will be painted by Kerry James Marshall, first recipient of the SFMOMA Atrium Commission, to announce his show of representational work opening in February. Those are also temporary. "I would think not eight years," said Garrels, who won't describe them other than "they will look 180 degrees different than the LeWitts."

Garrels came by Wednesday morning in time to see one drawing already painted out and the other being sanded. He would not go so far as to describe the de-installation process as part of the artwork. "I'm just sad," said Garrels, who predicted that "Wall Drawings #935" and "#936" would be back in the same location.

"We'll do them over for my retirement." He is 57. Check back in 10 years.

Man on trial for Turkey art protest By Gavin Engelbrecht


A NORTH-EAST artist living in Turkey will go on trial this week accused of insulting the country’s prime minister through a satirical collage.

Michael Dickinson, from Durham City, faces up to two years in jail if he is convicted in a trial to open in Istanbul on Thursday.

The charges arise out of Mr Dickinson’s picture Good Boy, showing the Turkish prime minister, Tayyip Erdogan, as a dog, with a stars and stripe leash and a nuclear missile for a tail.

He later exhibited similar collage, Best in Show, in an art exhibition staged by the Global Peace and Justice Coalition in Istanbul.

This was removed by police and he was told he would be prosecuted.

Mr Dickinson later spent 10 days in custody after he held up Good Boy outside the court in protest.

During a transfer, he attempted to escape, but was shot at by a policeman and recaptured.

Mr Dickinson is the uncle of 13- year-old Caroline Dickinson, who was raped and murdered in a French youth hostel 1996, while on a school trip.

He said last night: “There are people in Turkey who have no option of leaving.

“They are being persecuted for making legitimate political statements.

I decided to stay here and make a stand for freedom of expression.

“It’s an important principle of western civilisation. Turkey wants to be thought of as a civilised country and needs to shed its medieval laws.”

Mr Dickinson, who has been an English teacher in the country for 22 years, has been placed on an employment blacklist.

He said: “To save myself from total destitution, I am now just managing to pay the rent by telling fortunes with rune-stones in the streets of Istanbul.”

Mr Dickinson is a member of the Stuckists art movement, whose co-founder, Charles Thomson, has written to Gordon Brown about the case.

A response from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We are unable to interfere in the judicial process of other countries.”

An online protest petition, which can be found at mung being.com/petition.html has more than 500 signatures, including Professor Noam Chomsky, a vociferous critic of US foreign policy.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Chemises by Malick Sidibe


Chemises
by Malick Sidibé
Steidl

Malick Sidibé has gained an international reputation for his documentation of an important aspect of the history of Mali. His photographs uniquely convey the atmosphere and vitality of the capital, Bamako, in a period of tremendous euphoric cultural change. Soon after Sidibé set up his own studio in 1962 he was highly sought after to photograph all the happening events and ceremonies in Mali, including football matches, weddings, Christmas Eve celebrations and the surprise parties thrown by groups of youths belonging to “clubs.” The clubs were named after their idols and the styles of western music (Los Cubanos, Les Caïds, Las Vegas, etc.) which had just started being sold in Bamako. Malian independence brought not only a whiff of liberty and insouciance, “communist friendship with brother countries,” but also dreams of western society. Sidibé sometimes photographed five reports in one night before returning to the lab to develop the negatives. He would then display on the studio walls carefully numbered index prints which were glued on administrative folders. These are the “chemises” reproduced in this book. In the following days, the party people came to look at the folders and select the photos that they wanted to buy. The folders reproduced in this book constitute a significant catalogue of Sidibé’s work. Progressively, in the mid-seventies, youths met less frequently at clubs and went more often to night clubs which were not Malick’s haunts. He therefore shifted his activity to studio portraits and camera repairs.

Available @ Amazon Books

Hallucinogenic California: The Alternate World of Craig Baldwin & Damon Packard @ The Red Cat Theater September 26 2008


"Mock Up On Mu is an overwhelming experience, an allegorical cyclone of images and ideas haunted by sardonic humor and gnostic longing..." Erik Davis, techgnosis.com

Two of California’s most notorious underground filmmakers unleash a pair of deliriously subversive visions of Los Angeles culture — past and present — as poverty-row sci-fi thrillers. Bricolage wizard Craig Baldwin, of Tribulation 99 (1991) fame, takes his culture-jamming to a new orbit with Mock Up On Mu (2008, 109 min., color and b/w). This new work is a frenzied collage narrative following the far-flung exploits of L. Ron Hubbard, master of the Empire of Mu (aka the moon) in the year 2019, as he schemes with and against Marjorie Cameron, Jack Parsons and Aleister Crowley to make havoc on the terrestrial homeland. Baldwin’s twisting plot uses B-movies, self-help infomercials, pulp serials, aerospace promo films and otherworldly footage shot by Baldwin to spin an allegorical yarn of subterranean cults, government secrecy, and the co-opting of utopian visions by the military. Mock Up on Mu is preceded by Damon Packard’s SpaceDisco One (2007, 42 min.). The director, writer and star of the paranoid freakout Reflections of Evil (2002), Packard (who also plays L. Ron Hubbard in Baldwin’s film) gives a frightening and hilarious depiction of Los Angeles as an Orwellian land of split realities: placid suburban routines under invisible but inextricable mind control.

In person: Craig Baldwin, Damon Packard

Mock Up On Mu will also screen on Sunday September 28, 7:00 pm at Los Angeles Filmforum at the Egyptian Theatre 6712 Hollywood Blvd. at Las Palmas

$10 general, $6 students/seniors, free for Filmforum members

631 West 2nd Street
Los Angeles Ca 90012

The Mandrake: Art Gallery & Bar in Los Angeles





Founded by artists and funded by dealers, the Mandrake is one among many galleries on La Cienega. The Mandrake however is unique in that it is a full bar with cocktails, a happy hour (5-7PM) that provides pbr and a shot of whisky for $5 or if you prefer tecate and a shot of tequila for $5 while all house cocktails are two dollars off.

Serving as neighborhood bar, the Mandrake offers a full calendar of events. In fact, there's something going on at the Mandrake on an almost daily basis. Everything from film-screenings to magazine launch parties to lectures to poetry readings to Melvin's record covers show to informal discussions on subjects that include architecture and urbanism to Fox and His Friends which is gay night at the Mandrake (the Mandrake was at one time a gay bar called the Manhandler thus the venues current name) can be counted among the Mandrake's to do list.

The Mandrake also has an outdoor patio where one can smoke and drink at the same time!!!

Betalevel Events: The Ups & Downs @ Betalevel in China Town


The Ups & Downs is an installation series. The show goes up, the show goes down. Opening party on Thursday night and closing party the next night, on Friday. No time for exhibitions. Low impact, ephemeral and immersive art. People with lots of People. The market. It’s a party. Time for the underground. It’s a ball. It’s for The People. This has been made for you. Do I know you? The show must go on. Installed and De-installed. Up. Down. Now what? Now then…

The Ups & Downs:
Pablo N. Molina
Continuing an exploration of human-media interaction, Pablo N. Molina’s newest work uses digital projection and custom software to create a dynamic spatialized interface where human movement is processed and extended. An immersive and responsive video display and digital sensory framework will track both presence and movement to produce an intricate and reactive environment. Meaningful conversations between human stimuli and data processing are temporarily registered as visual and auditory output. Viewers should feel free to explore and discover new modes of action and reaction. The purposely open-ended coding framework allows for completely unexpected, though never random, modes of feedback.

Pablo N. Molina is a Los Angeles and New York City based video, lighting and sound artist. His work has appeared in several galleries and numerous theatrical, music and dance performances including pieces by Carl Hancock Rux, Neil Denari, Karin Coonrod, Bebe Miller, Aimee Michelle, Lars Jan, Mira Kingsley, Sam Gold, Chi-wang Yang, Benny Sato Ambush, Cloud Eye Control, Rachel Boggia and High Jinks Dance Co. His digitally generated video content was prominently featured in Linkin Park’s recent Projekt Revolution world tour. He is currently collaborating with MODE Studios in Seattle to develop a large scale interactive video and sound installation commissioned by a prominent Fortune 500 company. Pablo teaches video design and programming at CalArts.

The Ups & Downs
Pablo N. Molina
Thursday, September 25 from 7 to 10 pm
Friday, September 26 from 7 to 10 pm
http://betalevel.com/2008/09/26/the-ups-downs/

Directions to Betalevel

1. Find yourself in front of "FULL HOUSE RESTAURANT"
located at 963 N. Hill Street in Chinatown, Los Angeles

2. Locate the narrow alley on the left hand side of Full House.

3. Walk about 20 feet down the alley (away from the street).

4. Stop.

5. Notice dumpster on your right hand side.

6. Take a right and continue down the alley.

7. Exercise caution so as not trip on the wobbly cement blocks underfoot

8. The entrance to Betalevel is located 10 yards down on left side,
behind a red door, down a black staircase.

No To The BANKSTER BAILOUT: Rally in Los Angeles September 25 2008


Come say "Enough" with a bunch of people and feel better. Humorous signs particularly welcome -- we have to laugh at the gaul of these people. (Candles may help us be visible, though it's pretty windy on this corner.) From James Moore: Conservative Republicans always want the government to stay out of business and avoid regulation as long as they are making lots of money. When their greed, however, gets them into a fix, they are the first to cry out for rules and laws and taxpayer money to bail out their businesses. Obviously, Republicans are socialists. The Bush administration has decided to socialize the debt of the big Wall Street Firms. Taxpayers didn't get to enjoy any of the big money profits on the phony financial instruments like derivatives or bundled sub-prime paper, but we get the privilege of paying for their debt and failures.

Address:

Corners of Highland & Melrose
Hollywood, CA 90038

Directions:
We'll gather on the North West corner of Highland & Melrose and spill over to the North East and South West corners, if we need to. Accessible usually quiet sidewalk on busy traffic intersection.

Thursday, September 25 @ 6.00-7.00PM

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Restless Brilliance @ Hammer Museum Billy Wilder Theater



You can't swing a Wii stick without hitting one blurred genre or another at audiovisual juggernaut Restless Brilliance. Presented by new-media organization Volume Projects, tonight's program features a live performance by avant-electro celebrity Shuttle 358 (aka Fenton, aka Dan Abrams) and Richard Chartier's 2007 conceptual masterpiece Colorfield Variations — a compendium of sound-and-light art by an international roster of digital and A/V artists riffing on the modern-painting idiom. – Shana Nys Dambrot

Price
FREE
When
Wednesday Sep 24 (7pm)

Where
Billy Wilder Theater, Hammer Museum (10899 Wilshire Blvd)

310.443.7000

Conscious Clothing: Clothing of the American Mind


Los Angeles based, green apparel startup Clothing of the American Mind uses 100% non-toxic, water-soluble inks, on fabric made from recycled plastic bottles. A percentage of sales goes toward supporting worker's rights overseas and groups such as Alliance for Climate Protection.

I'm not totally into screened t-shirts which is why I like American Apparel, but for those who like to advertise their opinions about this or that Clothing of the American Mind might be for you.

Buying second hand is the ultimate in recycling but companies like the above are the next best thing...

http://www.cotam.org/index.php

Louise Bourgeois @ MOCA October 26 2008


The first comprehensive survey of 96 year old Louise Bourgeois's work in over ten years...

Exhibition curator Francis Morris discusses Bourgeois work on October 26 at 3.00pm

INFO 213/621-1745 or education@moca.org
FREE

Friday, September 19, 2008

America: The Gift Shop




Phillip Toledano puts down the camera and opts for the tangible, if not totally functional, to get his political point across in his virtual exhibition titled America: The Gift Shop. 'The Gift Shop' includes objects that are normally viewed as kitschy souvenirs, things like snow globes and cheesy t-shirts are taken to new levels as he politicizes the objects injecting them with depth, meaning, and humor of course. The Dick Cheney shreading documents 'snow globe' would make a great gift; the 'I 'heart' unilateral pre-emptive strikes' t-shirt is really funny until one starts to think about the fact that there are plenty of Bush lovers who would probably wear it with pride...

www.americathestore.com

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Between Earth and Heaven: The Architecture of John Lautner @ the Hammer Museum


Between Earth and Heaven: The Architecture of John Lautner
Los Angeles
Hammer Museum
Now through October 12

Walking into the Hammer galleries for Between Earth and Heaven: The Architecture of John Lautner is like entering a forest of vertiginous dimensions. Exhibition curators Frank Escher and Nicholas Olsberg explore the mid-century architect's interest in visceral experience, nature, and complex structural systems by incorporating hundreds of plans and drawings into a diverse topography of fiberboard displays, light boxes, large-scale wooden models, landscape and construction photographs, and digital animations of building facades and interiors. Celebrated homes like the iconic octagonal 1960 Chemosphere in LA and Palm Springs' 1968 Elrod House are given in-depth explorations, illuminating the legacy of Lautner's futuristic vision. His influence on contemporary innovators can be detected in Frank Gehry's outlandish digital geometry and Norman Foster's eco-conscious forms. - Leila Khastoo

The exhibition is accompanied by a comprehensive catalogue, published by Rizzoli International Publications, in association with the Hammer Musem.

POST CONSUMED: THE LANDSCAPE OF WASTE IN LOS ANGELES


According to The LA Weekly:

Back in 1964, when it still seemed possible to have actual subcultures, Ken Kesey and his acid-drenched posse the Merry Pranksters forged a microcosmic utopian community one universe to the side of mainstream society. In a mutant variation of the archetypal American road journey, they took their collective improvisational vision on a cross-country tour in a psychedelically appointed school bus, giving rise to one of the great metaphors of pharmaceutically awakened communalism; in Kesey's words, "You're either on the bus or off the bus."

Flash-forward to 2008 and the uncategorizable Center for Land Use Interpretation is hosting another of its long, strange trips — better known as "luxury bus tours" — presented intermittently by the center's Site Extrapolation Division, usually in conjunction with more regular exhibition programming. In this case, the exhibition is "Post Consumed: The Landscape of Waste in Los Angeles," a sort of sequel to 2005's "Terminal Island," which explored the hundreds of thousands of crap-filled shipping containers that are unloaded each year at the man-made island in Long Beach Harbor.

Of course "crap-filled" is my own characterization. CLUI, as always, maintained its poker-faced institutional neutrality in both the "Terminal Island" exhibit and the bus-and-boat tour that accompanied it. Though, as always, CLUI director/tour guide Matt Coolidge's droll deadpan descriptions manage at least to convey the stupefying scale of our pathological materialism: "Inside a single 40-foot container, you can fit about 20,000 shirts, about 15,000 shoeboxes, or about 130,000 videocassettes, a million pieces of LEGO, 68,000 Barbie dolls, 3,000 tires, 55,000 cartons of cigarettes ... or, if you prefer, 650 kegs of beer. Around 4 million containers come through Port of L.A. every year."

Which is all well and good at the incoming end of the equation — consumerist guilt doesn't stand a chance against the gleeful hard-wired lust awakened by the glittering 99-cent-store display. But once the colorful wrapping is crumpled and the polyvinyl knickknack de jour has fallen apart, and everything is stuffed in the Dumpster or curbside bin with the disposable diapers and yesterday's papers, most of us are not so keen to bear witness to the evidence of our culture's extravagance. America contributes 5 percent of the planet's population but produces 40 percent of its waste — not an easy statistic to spin.

Or so one would assume. In fact, the "Post Consumed" exhibit is surprisingly and effortlessly optimistic, simultaneously charting the course of the Los Angeles "waste stream" while recounting the successful achievement of recycling goals and recently locked-in plans for the Mesquite Regional Landfill, a "Waste-by-Rail" megadump just east of the Salton Sea — CLUI's spiritual home — scheduled to start receiving giant bricks of compressed refuse from the City of Angels next year. Boiled down to a pithy half-dozen audiovisual display kiosks (plus some comically minimalist dioramas — "Wow! An actual trash bin!"), "Post Consumed" is CLUI at its CLUIest: subtly infused with formal beauty and wit (the center's corps of photographers are under-recognized talents), unobtrusively informed by a patchwork of art historical, contemporary theoretical, sociological and geopolitical concerns and brimming with new information you don't know is here until the ride home.

Which is probably how the exhibit found its way into the United States' omnibus contribution to the 2008 Venice Architecture Biennale, "Into the Open: Positioning Practice." Opening September 14, this year's quirky international survey has banned any actual buildings in favor of "site-specific installations, manifestos and utopian, dystopian or heterotopian visions." Assembled by William Menking (editor of The Architect's Newspaper) with curators from the Slought Foundation of Philadelphia and the Parc Foundation, the U.S. Pavilion will feature 16 organizations ranging from radical restauratrice Alice Waters' Edible Schoolyard program to the sustainable urban design of Jonathan Kirschenfeld Associates, whose "Floating Pool Lady" – a retrofitted steel barge turned public swimming pool — is currently moored off the Bronx waterfront.

As much as CLUI's 13-plus years of interactive documentary environments, extensive publications and consummate Web presence have earned it a deserved place in the pantheon of heterotopian visionary nonprofits, it remains my contention that its most innovative and effective form of representing the man-made American landscape has been the sporadic and exclusive bus tours. Which brings us back to the Merry Pranksters, since this exclusivity isn't a matter of wealth or status but simply of being in the right place at the right time.

The right place and time, in this case, was CLUI's Venice Boulevard headquarters at 8:30 a.m. a few Fridays ago. The seats had long been spoken for. Though open to all, CLUI tours are singular events, and seating is limited — this one sold out online in 14 minutes. (It's like the Pink Floyd of heterotopian visionary nonprofits!) The demographics of these expeditions have always been an odd mash-up of academics, artists and fringe types — libertarians, UFOlogists and like-minded independent researchers — but seem to be gradually skewing to a younger, hipper crowd.

Titled A Trip to the Dump, this was perhaps the shortest excursion ever organized by CLUI – 20 miles east on the freeway to Puente Hills in Whittier, site of the largest active landfill in America. Passengers who had braced themselves for an olfactory-challenging immersion were not disappointed by a brief side visit to the Central L.A. Recycling and Transfer Facility — a somewhat decrepit way station just southeast of downtown, where a constant almond-scented misting did little to inhibit the reek of garbage as it was dumped and plowed and dumped again.

MRF: Puente Hills' Materials Recovery FacilityPuente Hills itself is another story. "People say, 'Solid waste management is a dirty business,'" proclaims the County Sanitation District Disposal Site's glossy brochure. "We say, 'Rubbish!'" Carefully designed to be invisible and unsmellable to the neighboring communities, Puente Hills carefully choreographs the constant stream of trucks to sort your asphalt from your appliances, then crushes each day's worth of bona fide trash (13,200 tons to be precise) into football-field-sized "cells" using the 120,000-pound steel-wheeled Bomag compactor. Seven regulatory agencies engage in elaborate monitoring for radiation, ground water safety and habitat protection. The facility uses methane gas leached from the fermenting trash to fuel its fleet of vehicles, and processes recovered wastewater for dust control and maintaining the landfill's indigenous flora camouflage and oak tree nursery. Though we saw numerous breathtaking industrial vistas, we garbage-tourists probably saw more actual trash at the downtown Transfer Facility than in Puente Hills' 400 acres. Until we got inside the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF).

Immaculate and efficient as it is, the landfill will be chock-full by 2013, which is when the trash train to Mesquite kicks in. Central to this vision of the future of solid-waste management is the MRF (pronounced "Murph"), a hangar-sized building where small mountains of refuse are gradually broken down into smaller mountains of desert-bound landfill and recyclable materials. The mixed recyclables are loaded onto conveyor belts to be picked over and sorted by mostly female, nonunion, minimum-wage laborers. This was the hypnotic money shot of CLUI's Trip to the Dump: the layered, ethically queasy view from the elevated spectator's gallery as thousands of white plastic bags or brown cardboard boxes were continuously plucked from their industrial routing mechanism, cascading to the floor into improbably gorgeous sculptural forms. I kept half-expecting Matthew Barney to pop out and do a tap routine; the DIA Foundation definitely needs to get in on this action. If Earthworks has a future, this is it.

Perhaps as an antidote to the can-do outlook of the waste management industry (and certainly as an observation about the disposal of our most personal detritus), we made a quick stop at the conveniently next-door Rose Hill Memorial Park and Mortuary (the largest cemetery in the world — they grow 'em big in Whittier!), then headed home, the bus' video screens replaying the climactic scene from Soylent Green as the passengers dozed. It occurred to me that even this was one step removed from the purest form of CLUI's creative endeavor — Coolidge and company are constantly making exploratory research trips, and only a handful of "lucky" observers ever get to tag along. So even if you're on the bus, you're not really on the bus. But then I thought of all the little projects and interventions in the last decade that have sprung up in CLUI's wake. Like the Merry Pranksters (and any other creative entity successfully sculpting the socially mediated environment), CLUI's most important artwork (or whatever you want to call it) is the example it has set. That's the only way to get on the bus: to get off your ass and do it yourself.

POST CONSUMED: THE LANDSCAPE OF WASTE IN LOS ANGELES| The Center for Land Use Interpretation | 9331 Venice Blvd., Culver City | (310) 839-5722 | Ongoing