Friday, October 21, 2016

"Alcohol & Adrenaline" by Secular Ghost

From Secular Ghost (the nom de musique of Ryan James, one half of the electronic group Man Without Country), "Alcohol & Adrenaline." Found on his eponymously titled 2016  release.

Every man has it inside of them
An emptiness
This exposé has lived in my drafts folder
For an eternity

This is the antithesis of everything that I am
Don’t look for the closest exit
I wanna be a better man

Every man has it inside of him
An emptiness
Alcohol, adrenaline
Money kills everything

This is the antithesis of everything that I am
Don’t look for the closest exit
I’m gonna be a better man
I wanna be a better man

This is the antithesis of everything that I am
Don’t look for the closest exit
I wanna be a better man

Thursday, October 20, 2016

BEAUTY: Collage--Joe Castro

Artist and musician Joe Castro uses vintage images to create fascinating collages that are balanced and textural.

Top to bottom: "You Caught The Bouquet"; 30 Days; For Everything Unwritten; Libra; Tequila Diamonds; The Bones In The Caves

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Just watched...

...a haphazard double bill of "The Lobster" and "The Nice Guys."

When I flew back from Maui, my plane had a nice in-flight selection of films to choose from and since one is basically held hostage while traveling by air, I thought I'd catch up on some films I'd been meaning to see. The first one that caught my eye was a film that made a splash at last year's 2015 Cannes Film Festival: "The Lobster."

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and written by Lanthimos with Efthymis Filippou, the story concerns itself with a near-future society obsessed with the state of being a couple. If one is single--or worse, if one finds oneself single because your partner has either left you or perhaps died, one is given 45 days to find another suitable mate or be turned into an animal. The premise sounds quite Kafka-esque and the film certainly is a highly surreal allegory. Most reviews and film journalists refer to "The Lobster" as a hilarious black-comedy, but I want to disabuse them of this notion. While there were some black-comedy moments and a kind of off-kilter bemusement arising from the bizarre premise itself, on the whole the film reads like an absolute nightmare. The amount of malice and cruelty exhibited in this film was cumulative and weighed on me heavily by the end of the story. The completely flat, naïve affect of the cast--headed beautifully by Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz--makes the characters seem like children caught up in some kind of horrible one is able to help themselves from either becoming a victim or abusing victims. And the clear, dispassionate cinematography helps this feeling along while the overwrought, staccato string quartet soundtrack hacks and saws away at our nerves and emotions.

Also of note is the effective dream logic at work--never once is it explained how people are turned into animals and I liked that. This is a fairy tale and magical things are taken for granted in such tales.

While the story description says it takes place in a "near future," I felt it took place in an alternate reality, right next to our own, in a colorless approximation of Soviet-era or Eastern bloc grimness. There was nothing in it that suggested a time any different from ours. Being an allegory, it naturally has a lot to say about our own culture which places so much emphasis on being in a relationship, but I feel there is a much bigger issue at play: it begs the question of how people can travel to such extreme poles in their psyches and how they can grant power to arbitrary, superficial structures instead of their own souls. If one looks at our current frightening election cycle here in the United States, we can witness how such a thing happens, and it happens through fear.

Recommend? I am truly torn about this one. It is a skillfully made film. All elements work well and it is a relevant, powerful statement. But the depths it explores might hurt.

And now, as Monty Python used to say, for something completely different. Since I had some more time to kill on the flight, I hopped over to a film that was released this past spring, 2016, "The Nice Guys."

Set in 1970s Los Angeles, a vigilante-for-hire (Russell Crowe) and a struggling private investigator (Ryan Gosling) team up to solve a mystery and a handful of murders that happen along the way. This comedy was savaged by some critics but I found it amusing. A predictable story and some hackneyed characters are saved by some zippy dialogue (some of which was improvised by Gosling and Crowe)  and Gosling's excellent comedic timing: the film plays like a cross between an Abbot and Costello classic and something like "Chinatown" or "L.A. Confidential" (which were films deliberately evoking classic noir thrillers like "The Big Sleep"). In fact, Gosling gets to do a marvelous scene that is nearly a frame-for-frame and wheeze-for-wheeze copy of something Lou Costello did in the 40s.

Recommend? Sure, it's a fun and funny romp. And Gosling really is great.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Seen On Maui

I'm back from Maui where I spent some time visiting a dear friend who lives in the tiny, picturesque Upcountry village of Makawao, halfway up Haleakala. Makawao was originally a paniolo or cowboy town. But now it is a quaint little gathering of stores and a main street populated by colorful chickens who wander into the shops! You can see my previous post about Komoda Bakery in downtown Makawao here!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Happy Cherokee New Year 2016!

Happy Cherokee New Year!

The Cherokee people ended their year and started the new year in autumn. It’s interesting—and makes sense—that they chose the harvest to mark the end of the year. The earth had gone through a cycle: the food had grown from spring, through summer, and then was harvested in the fall. The cycle was finished; time to start anew. The New Year was celebrated with a festival that featured purifications, dancing, prayers and offerings, and food such as corn, beans, squash, and meat.

Since the Cherokee calendar was and still is extremely tied to the phases of the moon, the timing of the New Year observation is somewhat up for debate. Some sources say that it was observed on the first full moon after the start of autumn, which is today, October 16th, 2016. Other sources report that the New Year was observed ten days after the first full moon, the ten days probably being a period of fasting and preparation for the festival. Still other sources cite the first full moon in the Cherokee month of Nvdadequa or Nvwatitequa—which happens during our month of November—as the true Cherokee New Year.

Whenever it was celebrated, it was surely around this time... when the earth turns, the days grow shorter, the nights grow longer, and the weather turns cold. We prepare for the introspection that comes with winter, when the ground sleeps under the snow. That is the beginning of the year, the beginning of time: from darkness and cold springs life, new growth.

I wish you all "alihelisdi itse udetiyvsadisvi" or Happy New Year!

Friday, October 14, 2016

BEAUTY: Installation--Miguel Chevalier at Nuit Blanche 2016

For this year's Nuit Blanche celebration in Paris on October 1st, 2016, artist Miguel Chevalier created a stunning projection installation in the Saint-Eustache Church.

His website artist statement says:
"For many years, the Saint Eustache Church has shared in such great moments of the artistic life of the city of Paris as Nuit Blanche (All-Nighter), an occasion to offer some 10,000 night visitors the opportunity to discover the city’s historical heritage.
For Nuit Blanche 2016, Father George Nicholson, Priest of Saint-Eustache and Françoise Paviot, curator in charge of contemporary art at the Saint Eustache Church, are proposing Miguel Chevalier’s virtual-reality installation 'Voûtes Célestes.' This new is accompanied by musical improvisations played by Baptiste-Florian Marle-Ouvrard, titular organist for Saint Eustache Church’s great organ and repertoires performed by Les Chanteurs de Saint-Eustache.

'Voûtes Célestes' is a generative and interactive virtual-reality artwork projected onto the Saint Eustache Church’s chancel vaults, its central nave, its transept crossing, and its two transepts. Surprising imaginary sky charts are created in real time. The visitor discovers a variety of colored networks of light that spread out in the form of sinuous webs. These large meshes take form and then lose their shape, changing following the movements of visitors in the central nave, creating ever renewed, diversified universes.
'Voûtes Célestes' highlights the site’s architecture, the volumes of the columns and ribbed vaults come to life before our eyes. Their colorful gridworks create surprising trompe l’oeil effects. These suspended universes accentuate one’s impression of the monument’s loftiness and lightness.
Visitors are invited to stroll around, to sit in the pews, and to lift up their eyes toward the heavens. These digital constellations of pixels immerse visitors in an atmosphere bathed in light while opening unto infinity. The installation releases radiant energy into this space of plenitude. Amplified by Saint Eustache’s organ music, the installation induces a spiritual and contemplative feeling of elevation. Light, color and movement create a poetics of matter and elaborate a new aesthetics of virtuality."

Nuit Blanche is a marvelous arts festival which takes place in Paris on the first Saturday of October. Started in 2002, the free, all-night event combines visual arts of all kinds with music, perfromance, and dance at venues spanning the city. Naturally, artists take advantage of the darkness of night and many works and installations are light-based. Chevalier's "Voûtes Célestes" was presented from 8:30PM to 6AM. The principal organist at Saint-Eustache, Baptiste-Florian Marle-Ouvrard, played improvised music while watching the kaleidoscopic, psychedelic patterns morphing overhead.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

An Egypt That Doesn't Exist by Rumi

An Egypt That Doesn’t Exist
by Rumi

I want to say words that flame
as I say them, but I keep quiet and don’t try
to make both worlds fit in one mouthful.

I keep secret in myself an Egypt
that doesn’t exist.
Is that good or bad? I don’t know.

For years I gave away sexual love
with my eyes. Now I don’t.
I’m not in any one place. I don’t have a name
for what I gave away. Whatever Shams
gave, that you can have from me.

--Translated by Coleman Barks with John Moyne

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Harmony by Aaron Fagan

by Aaron Fagan

Sisyphus punches in, each morning,
At a mountain he must face all day,
In hell, for eternity, and at night,
Having not reached the summit
Again, he walks down slow, where
The rock rushed by, careful to see,
With new eyes, where it all went
Wrong, again, and then later,
At the bar in town, sits cooling his
Bleeding hands against a whiskey,
On the rocks, and maps new paths,
On a napkin, inside the wet ring
His tumbler made, again and again,
The routes running on to absurd
Lengths, hands shaking, and if it
Wasn’t a map, you might think
It was the history of history
Or parts of a nude in repose,
Patient with death and belonging.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Happy International Coming Out Day 2016

Today is the 28th annual International Coming Out Day. This celebration started in 1988 as a way to raise awareness of the LGBT community and civil rights movement.

If you haven't yet, join us. We need you.

Sculpture by Lazar-G

Monday, October 10, 2016

BEAUTY: Man--Noah Huntley

Gorgeous actor/model Noah Huntley is featured in the October issue of Harrod's Magazine in a feature called "Stand and Deliver" which plays into my love of New Romance and evokes mages of Adam Ant's video for his song "Stand and Deliver." Of course the clothing--ranging from McQueen to Bottega Veneta--are sumptuously New Romantic as well...!/issue/126646/article/122049