Tuesday, October 25, 2005

One for every year since Christ

Roll Call of the Death Toll

The New York Times has published the feature at the link below to commemorate the 2000th senseless casualty of America's war against shadows. Take a good look at the pictures. They're posted for a reason. Notice where the Michigan dead lived, and then try to deny that poor Americans are the capital of our country's belligerant foreign policy games. To all you thick-headed advocates of the Bush machine's war-mongering, your testosteronic and painfully ignorant pride is less valuable than the two-thousand recorded American casualties seen here. Putting a Dick Cheney 'baseball card' on your door at Dutch House and making snide, dumb-ass Hillary Clinton jokes won't give your pride more value either.


Chanson d'installation: still Danny Boy


Pipe Dreams

Here are selected portions of a conversation Dawn and I recently had online.

Leidio: yeah dude...that's the epicenter of the east village.
Leidio: tompkins square park is where all the shit goes down.
Leidio: and stuyvessant town is down there--infamous projects.
Leidio: i fuckin' hate new york.
Leidio: it's so miserable to live in.
SaturnLeia: yeah, I know
Leidio: people there are in systemmatic denial
Leidio: how's ryan liking it?
SaturnLeia: I don't think I could move there, even though I love it
Leidio: the city you visit is not the city you call home.
SaturnLeia: she likes it, but then she wasn't under any delusions when she moved there--she knew it wasn't going to be all roses
SaturnLeia: it can be really isolating
Leidio: it changes face in stark contrast.
SaturnLeia: yeah
SaturnLeia: well, I think it'd be cool to live there, but it would be even harder to do music
SaturnLeia: totally oversaturated, and the audiences are ADD
SaturnLeia: much better to tour through and visit
Leidio: why would it be cool to live there
Leidio: ?
SaturnLeia: there are certain areas I really like, and the city has a lot of energy
Leidio: so do most cities.
SaturnLeia: for example, Clinton Hill or the Eurpean-ish area I mentioned
SaturnLeia: I know
Leidio: you should visit boston...talk about european-ish.
Leidio: but you're expressing a major perturbance of mine (nothing personal)....
Leidio: and that is
SaturnLeia: there's so much art going on, and a lot of places to do the kinds of things I'm interested in even in ministry, in terms of bringing art and faith together
SaturnLeia: I really want to visit Boston
Leidio: the inability of americans to understand and appreciate the american city. we're don't have european urbanism nor do we fuckin' want it.
SaturnLeia: I think I'll move to Chicago though, although it doesn't look like the greatest place to work on music either
SaturnLeia: I appreciate the American city
Leidio: but i thought art occurs everywhere. you know, the shakers merged art, worldview, lifestyle, and faith without new york.
SaturnLeia: I didn't like that area because it was European, I liked it and it reminded me of Europe
SaturnLeia: two different things
SaturnLeia: definitely
SaturnLeia: it's just a critical mass--or in New York's case, an oversaturation
Leidio: sure, but the same desire...the same totem, the same pipe dream, mirage, daydream, the same phenomenological desire.
SaturnLeia: really if I was putting music above all other considerations, I'd move somewhere on the East Coast, by upstate New York
SaturnLeia: it's the best place to be in terms of being able to tour easily to lots of places
Leidio: now you're talkin.
SaturnLeia: but I do want to go a big city, at least for a while
SaturnLeia: though I think one of the reasons I like Evanston is that it's kind of like Ann Arbor, but it's by Chicago
Leidio: art comes out of place. new york has turned its back on place, instead asserting place as its received discombobulation.
SaturnLeia: yeah, too many people there are obsessed with seeming avant garde
SaturnLeia: Ryan and I talked a lot about that too
Leidio: I will presume to bet that you like (and that I like) Evanston because it's definition of place is the 'critical mass' of urbanism at a human scale that coexists with an identity of landscape as well as a clear structure for social and communal interaction.
Leidio: all of these things New York lacks.
SaturnLeia: she loves to do video dance, and did before finding out that it was the "in" thing to do--but now you get so many people doing multimedia with dance that it's become something that people throw in--the video, I mean--just because rather than because they're trying to really use it to make a statement of significance
SaturnLeia: yeah
SaturnLeia: I think my ideal is a managable mid-sized city bordering a large one
Leidio: they're obsessed with the avant-garde because they have no worldviews. because they go to new york to deny their boring upbringings and expectations, but realize that they have no substance to actual deny. the whole thing is angst--it's a contrived pipe dream in which there is no other recourse but to repeat the thing that lacks definition (the avant-garde) because there's nothing actually definitive to rail against.
SaturnLeia: ah, but they aren't even railling against anything usually even in theory--it's just that video dance is cool and new, so everyone's flocking to it
Leidio: you said it: cambridge, ann arbor, evanston, east lansing, annapolis...
SaturnLeia: as Ryan put it, "If I see one more piece with TV static I think I'm going to scream"
Leidio: but that's my point...they have nothing to rail against because their lives have no substance. so they just repeat the thing that lacks definition (the avant-garde)
SaturnLeia: yeah, unfortunately Ann Arbor and East Lansing aren't bordering the cities I find interesting in terms of what's going on
SaturnLeia: as much as I love Detroit
SaturnLeia: it's on the up, but it's not quite the place I want to be -- that and I need to get out of the state
Leidio: dude, Lansing is a freaking' mine waiting to be opened.
SaturnLeia: heh
Leidio: it will just take people that aren't air-heady artsy types to do it.
Leidio: it will take critical criticism, a standpoint on culture, a goal that isn't an art-world free-for-all.
SaturnLeia: do you really think Lansing can go anywhere interesting?
SaturnLeia: it seems like in state the place that's going to happen is Detroit
SaturnLeia: but it'll need a lot of intrastructure and perserverance
Leidio: but dawn, maybe it's the kind of place you should be. if not you, who? that's just the trouble...everybody wants to live the pipe dream.
Leidio: Lansing has already been a successful city in its history.
SaturnLeia: I feel like I'm already living a pipe dream--I may end up getting a full-time job so I can support the music
Leidio: it's beed a lack of infrastructure, actually. rip up the freeways. detroit thrived before freeways existed. they will be dinosaurs in the next 30 years anyway.
SaturnLeia: no kidding
Leidio: you're already living the pipe dream?
Leidio: how?
SaturnLeia: heh, the starving artist thing is always a pipe dream
SaturnLeia: trying to make a living at performing
SaturnLeia: it's a different one than rebuilding a city
SaturnLeia: can't live too many pipe dreams at once
SaturnLeia: one is already definitionally unstable
Leidio: but it's only recently a pipe dream. the history of the 'starving artist' is one contrived in after the war and recast into the years preceding it.
SaturnLeia: how so?
SaturnLeia: I don't know that the arts have ever been particularly stable
Leidio: it's not a different task...rebuilding cities takes people making a living doing what they do.
SaturnLeia: yes, but if you're not making a living...
Leidio: au contraire the arts have been mostly stable throughout history.
SaturnLeia: I don't know though, one of the ways that a few cities have been revitalized is artists moving in
SaturnLeia: so many it's not so crazy, it's just not something I feel passionate about
Leidio: then you can branch out, and fulfill another need in the city...like a place for other performers, a place for a pragmatic need, like bread and sewing thread, a place to buy coats and umbrellas, nuts, toys, etc.
SaturnLeia: I feel like in the last 50 years or so there's definitely become a larger gap in terms of money--the little indie people at the bottom barely eeek out a living while the people at the top just rake it in
Leidio: artists moving in has only signified that change is possible. really, they're guinea pigs for developers.
SaturnLeia: lol
Leidio: hello dawn...that's what the entire world is becoming.
Leidio: let me tell you this...
SaturnLeia: I know, it's the story of everything these days
SaturnLeia: rich richer, poor poorer, and it's probably not going to change for the better
Leidio: Albert Bierstadt, the famous and important 19th-century American landscape painter, used to sell his paintings while starting out my ficitonalizing the place-names of his pieces to provoke a sense of ownership in his buyers of the still-mythic American frontier.
Leidio: What he did so well was to make his art relevant to the disposition of cultural stories--and myths--at large. but he didn't cater to them, nor did he create them. he simply reiterated their content. his paintings did this as well.
SaturnLeia: hmm, so are we looking for people to do this now in other media?
Leidio: in all things. our 'work' should emergently reiterate our story as a culture.
SaturnLeia: I think one of the cool things about Sujian Stevens is that he is creating art specific to places, but it still has broad appeal
SaturnLeia: it's the opposite of the pop music that is so general as to become irrelevant
SaturnLeia: but you could argue that our work automatically reiterates our story, and the proliferation of the pop crap--in many disciplines--also says something, perhaps that we want amnesia
Leidio: right! sufjan is at the vanguard, and he's not an avant-gardist nor an esoteric. he's at the vanguard while creating according to grounding asepct of life that we have otherwise denied and forgotten at large...landscape, memory, history, place, ethics, identity, knowing, heritage.
Leidio: but is amnesia what we really ought to value?
Leidio: i think we both know--no.
SaturnLeia: we shouldn't value it, but as a culture we're celebrating it
SaturnLeia: I'm kind of inspired by what he's doing

Chanson d'Installation: Danny Boy

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A Very Weird Sort of Pedantics

Right on cue, the architectural establishment gets prissy

"I don't think the answer is to bring somebody in with a canned response," says Eric Owen Moss, director of the Southern California Institute of Architecture. "There are fundamental issues of how to deal with that coastline, how to build, if you build at all."

He reads disturbing cultural messages in the quaint enclaves of New Urbanism. "It's right-wing developer-speak masquerading as populism," Moss says. "The ideological image-making would appeal to a kind of anachronistic Mississippi that yearns for the good old days of the Old South as slow and balanced and pleasing and breezy, and each person knew his or her role."

-from the Washington Post

Eric Owen Moss, a poster boy for "progressive" architecture and a member of the global businness-academy complex, has criticized The Mississippi Renewal Forum, a proactive and sensate group of planners, architects, policy gurus, elected fficials, and urbanists that has gathered together to develop a reasonable and productive vision on what rebuilidng the Gulf Coast will entail, how it might be effected, and what it might contain, saying that the solutions of so many presumed "New Urbanists" will be prissy and syrupy. Let me just say that I don't see Eric Owen Moss taking up shop amidst the ruins of the Gulf Coast (the MRF did their work in a damaged casino-hotel, where they all gathered for what is called a 'charrette'--a kind of projective vision-casting series of all-nighters that channel adrenaline and ideas into a very dense exchange and articulation of solutions) working out a reconstruction scheme that addresses not only architecture but poverty, environmental constraints, preservation, socio-economic stratification, political strategy, transportatioan, infrastructure, public works, housing, civic functions, public space, economies, markets, public policy, the consequences of suburbanization, and so many other pragmatic but pervasive considerations of place, not to mention the most relevant concepts such as heritage, accessibility, recognition, collective space, memory, security, and sustainability. Eric Owen Moss typifies the state of the architectural community today and I'm barely capable to articulating what that state is with appropriate representation. People like Moss--found in every single damned nook and cranny in the architectural community--believe that the only possible solution with situations like the Gulf Coast is to come up with something 'new' and "progressive."

But let me tell you folks, the concept of "new" at play in the architectural community is one rooted in the ambition for ego-driven prestige, for academic admiration, for professional praise, for artistic esotericism, for conceptual obfiscuity, for aesthetic shock, for widespread and comprehensive social, economic, and political commentary distilled into a set of objectives that are small enough to slap on the face of a presentation board (lest the critics criticize for an "unclear presentation" with "inchoate terminology"). Fuckers like Eric Owen Moss are out for themselves. They pass the days with nihilistic dreams of stardome, fanfare, authority, admiration, pure and unrequitted genius, and come up with a meaningless but complicated vocabulary with which to assert and achieve it. But the sentiments and the ideas of people like Eric Owen Moss are vacuous and shallow. They are very nearly purely contrived, and carry no relevance or import to the average citizen who lost her home of 150 years in Hurricane Katrina. For her, whatever sort of schizophrenic Deleuzian nihilistic basless placeless shrapnel-shard jagged dizzying slice of death architecture that Eric Owen Moss has to replace her home and neighborhood (and I presume he has something to propose if he sits in freaking Los Angeles--go fuckin' figure--criticizing the only people to actually attempt a meaningful service to the disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of the Gulf Coast with snide and condescending rhetorical shenanigans) just ain't going to slice the bacon. What the architectural community has to serve is thin gruel if you're hungry. Just take a look for yourself: which of the following examples do you think are the most relevant to the place of the Gulf Coast?

Chanson d'installation: Common, A Film Called Pimp

Sunday, October 16, 2005


From the edge of the sea, a non-view

I bought a Moleskin sketchbook last week, but it's still blank. I can't think of anything in the course of my day worthwhile to put in it. I just finished three weeks of searching for a hidden room but didn't find it, claiming it was "lost in the gradient" though the gradient was not drawn either. Waiting for a table for twenty minutes at least at Peet's today, I tried to read people to see if they would leave, creating fiction to pass the din and time, though too often my fictions were tall tales. The bored were the eager and the silent the occupied. It rained for a week along the northeast, and floodwaters came upon us, from Framingham to Storrow. A night along Atlantic Avenue where taxi cabs and commuters floated by the Federal Reserve made me think of that city in my mind that I've glimpsed every here and there for a good number of years now. I met my parents for tea at the Four Seasons and looked out the window at Boston Common while the rain persisted, while the leaves persisted in a hushed vernal lush as the sun set behind an endless gauze of clouds. Some might say a sarcophagus. I think the clouds make for hermitage. In hermitage, water seeping into and out of the ground is at the scale of fingers and toes, shoelaces and the points of umbrellas; points of leaves and pin-hole photographs. A hard wind came this morning and with it the sun, and then died off when it blowed itself over into the Atlantic. The city dried, and I put on another layer of wool. I munched on crusty bread at the last of the latter's face-shone light, and walked through the square where tourists and flakes cringed toward the wind. Then went home, and turned on the lights. Shed wool for a Classics hood, and sat down at the table to read.

Chanson d'installation: Arvo Part, Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Evildoers to Create Empire of Slavery from Spain to Indonesia

Speaking of pathological...

So says G-Dubs on October 6 at the National Endowment for Democracy:

"The militants believe that controlling one country
will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to
overthrow all moderate governments in the region and
establish a radical Islamic empire that expands from
Spain to Indonesia."

and that their goal is to:

"enslave whole nations and intimidate the world."

This is what we call paranoia. He goes on:

"We will never back down, never give in and never
accept anything less than complete victory,"

This is what we call nihilism. Later, in the same speech, Bush says:

"Bin Laden says his own role is to tell Muslims:
'What is good for them and what is not.' And what
this man who grew up in wealth and privilege considers
good for poor Muslims is that they become killers and
suicide bombers. He assures them that this is the
road to paradise, though he never offers to go along
for the ride,"

What's funny is that this statement could easily characterize Bush himself:

"Bush says his own role is to tell Americans: 'What is
good for them and what is not.' And what this man who
grew up in wealth and privilege considers good for poor
Americans is that they become soldiers and war heroes.
He assures them that this is the road to honor and
freedom, though he never offers to go along for the ride."

Fuck you Dubs.

Chanson d'installation: French Kicks, Trial of the Century

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

A Dose of the 'Dozer

Pathological self-exposure

Check out these quotations from the pathological clowns of the Republican complex. Don't get so smug Democrats--you're mostly just sitting there in the orchestra pit while the show gets more and more absurd.

Now See Here!

Chanson d'installation: Something Ornette Coleman