I got a postcard from Iceland the other day; maybe it's time to go, no?
Noted, the latest issue of Colors explores the theme of Frontiers.
Like a beetle in a bottle: my first blog (that I started right after I moved here -- on the day I got my nose pierced, which I'd forgotten about entirely), e.g. what are your three favorite words? cotillion, lilac, raconteur...
I am quite fond these days of Keren Ann's Nolita. I saw it in Paris last November, but the exchange rate was less than stellar and I didn't get it. Of course, I regretted that decision the moment I got back and flipped through the New Yorker, which featured a profile of Keren Ann and her fabulous new album.*
[With the general whirlwind activity that has characterized my life for the past few months, I didn't chronicle nearly enough of the extravagantly memorable experiences I had during my two weeks in France. Clearly, a longer post will have to wait.] The issue of Muze I bought in the train station in Paris has an interview with Keren Ann that includes her responses to a Proustian questionnaire, e.g.
La couleur que je prefere: le vert.She's playing a few shows in New York, including one at Fez on March 9.
La fleur que j'aime: la tulipe blanche...
...Ma nourriture et boisson preferees: "I never say no to champagne and caviar."
*It was cringe-worthy at the time but worked out serendipitously, as I got the album soon thereafter thanks to the fabulous Sasha (who is not a girl, btw).
I have been trying to attend more cultural events lately, and to support other people who contribute their talent, time, and effort to creating the vibrant scene that brought most of us to New York.
Last week, I went to a reading featuring Happy Baby author Stephen Elliott and another writer. I stayed up very late three nights in a row reading Elliott's second novel, What It Means to Love You. The story was both sad and irresistible, like pressing on a bruise. The literary weblog Beatrice covered the event, and I was pleasantly surprised, natch, to be mentioned in the story.
On Saturday, Bryan and I went to the Konundrum Engine Literary Review poetry reading at KGB, hosted by poetry editor Alex Lemon and featuring Adam Clay, Eric Elshtain, Cate Marvin, and Jon Woodward. I bought a chapbook, "for the Chicago price of three dollars," and was generally dazzled all evening.
At 12:30pm today, the latest edition of the Smart Set, my weekly short list of the most worthwhile events around town, will be up at the literary weblog MaudNewton.com. In the mix: a Bjork-themed costume party, a rare appearance guaranteed to induce riot-like behavior amongst a certain crowd, a Buddhist pop star, a multimedia hipster salon, and a literary happening of my own.
Craig, as you know, is going to be the Next Big Thing (and not just because he's a client of mine). He's at Sundance this week, representing his film Late Bloomer. NPR's Marketplace program featured Craig in a terrific segment that aired earlier today, focusing on the experience of two directors with short films screening at the festival. The piece is now available online. Also look for Craig in the next issue of New York, appearing in a "class photo" along with two dozen or so of the New York-based filmmakers that headed to Sundance with films this year.
I occasionally feel as overwhelmed by the information age as the next person. One of the best remedies for overloading the grid, so to speak, is the Wilson Quarterly's "Periodical Observer," an online feature that distills the content of academic publications in a simple format while preserving the core intellectual arguments and adding its critical perspective to the mix. Or, remix, if you will.
Like, on “Why Don’t the Rest of Us Like the Buildings the Architects Like?” by Robert Campbell, in Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences:
In Campbell’s view, this conflict between architects’ visions and their buildings’ reception by the general public is an indication that “the connection between memory and invention has been severed in our culture.” Architects and laypeople who pay attention to design, Campbell says, mainly fall into two camps, “trads” and “rads.” The trads—traditionalists—want all buildings to “look like the buildings of the past they have learned and been conditioned to love.” The rads— radicals—want to “use computers to make groovy new shapes that will broadcast our daring, our boldness, our march into the future.” Despite their seeming difference, both rads and trads “seek to substitute a utopia of another time for the time we actually live in. The trads find utopia in the past; the rads find it in the future.” Instead of grappling with “the complex reality of a present time and place,” both camps “inevitably create architecture that is thin, bloodless, weak, and boring.”Read the piece, and then follow the link to the original article (in .PDF format) to decide whether you've got a dog in this fight. My take: Oooh, the gloves come off, and best of all, I found a new motto: "Everything happens at parties."
Also deliciously dark and fairly dripping with scandal: Eavesdrop, the gossip column of the Architect's Newspaper, which is another current fave.
Someone today mentioned "working at home" and "discipline" in the same sentence today, and I cringed. Freelancers always talk about working at home as though it were some sort of prison, or conversely, a louche afterhours party waiting to drag one down into the muck of unrepentant hedonism; a promising destination that requires constant vigilance not to enter. I don't really feel that way: I'm one of those people whose mind is constantly humming no matter what I'm doing. Even if I'm not on the clock, I'm usually making lists or sending one last email or otherwise being hyper-efficient. Also, I don't own a television and so it's fairly easy to stay focused during the day with little opportunity for distraction. My biggest indulgence is taking my notebook and phone and whatever books I'm reading to the cafe down the street, and sitting there for an hour or two. This costs ridiculous amounts of money over time, however, and that's the one thing I don't have a surfeit of at the moment. So, in response, I've decided to make my apartment more clubby and cafe-like. For starters, I made a list of magazines I'd like to have on hand to flip through on a tea break: n + 1, Mizna, Work, Black Clock, and Elle Decor. Other capital investments to be made this week: fresh flowers, more lapsang souchong tea, and a crisp new Clarefontaine notebook.
Wooster Collective has a new series of photos of artists' workspaces. One of the things I most enjoyed about the recent Yoshitomo Nara exhibition was that part of the space was used to re-create aspects of his studio environment. I like the thought of a studio being a gathering place for ideas and conceptual energy. Creativity is a really strong force in my life, and my desire to honor its influence has determined the choices I've made: where I live, what I do, etc.
In that spirit, I found an old notebook to re-read my notes on the first "Creativity Now" conference (put together by Tokion magazine in 2003). Highlights:
"The only truly independent film is self-financed" - Christine Vachon
"I've gone where my instincts have taken me rather than what I thought would make money for me or other people." - Neil Labute
Peter Saville on design v. the design-look: He noted that that music industry has low standards, and the he knew that by just meeting those standards, he would go nowhere; "I would reach 30 or 35 and be past my sell-by date." The standard really mattered to him, because he saw that quality, and setting a high standard -- that exceeded expectations -- with his own work was the only way out of that industry.
Ryan McGinniss showed a dynamic chart that demonstrated "the commodification of street art," with "street art" in the middle and nodes radiating outward, labeles "style", "content", and "form" on the left, and "free", "illegal", and "public" on the right. He also differentiated between self-produced work and sponsored agendas as they relate to commodification of the product.
Matthew Barney discussed his Cremaster series as a meditation on the creative process that explored both the birth of an idea and its decay and expression of release into the world. Storytelling, athleticism (being involved in a dialogue with your body), and narrative (trying to locate the parts inside of you, and changing them) are all components of his work. He's also motivated by the quest to find the center -- getting back to a "fertile, reductive place" and making a framework for that to happen, as well as considering the future and natural progression of expression: drawings, objects, making performances -- what's next?
I enjoyed the 2003 agenda & speakers, but skipped it in 2004.
Speaking of the creative process, one of my favorite young artists working today, Jes Cannon, has work in the upcoming show, "This time next year..." @ Heidi Cho Gallery. Opening Reception: Thursday, Feb 3, 6-8pm. Runs thru Feb 27.
*Peonies and Lotus @ the Horticultural Society of New York
*So splendid: Dos Chicas Flower Carrier
*"Square foot gardening," "planting according to the phases of the moon," and "phenology" at realmud garden.
*Online:"Mastering Basic Styles of Ikebana"
*Easier than getting your hands dirty:Aunt Vi's Garden
Image: "Tulips" from Temple of Flora (1799) by Robert J. Thornton, from the collection of Cornell University.