Monday, December 31, 2007
Sunday, December 30, 2007
This is the smallest of the Canary Islands, a Spanish territory off the coast of Morocco. Some call it a windy rock in the middle of the Atlantic, but I call it a fascinating experiment and a warm sanctuary waiting to be explored. Thanks to some forward thinking environmentalists and politicians, it will be the world's first fully self-sustaining biosphere in terms of human energy consumption...
El Hierro Film Festival anyone? Art Colony? Who's in?
Saturday, December 29, 2007
I have a dream that in a true democracy, citizens would be allowed to decide where 30% of their tax money was spent. The government would be obliged to provide an annual book to every household that described all the projects, programs, and causes that the government was currently servicing. Half of the budget from any government sponsored program would be determined by its allocated public "gifts." This type of arrangement would encourage citizens to become more involved in government and would give us an infinitely more tangible connection to the operation of our beloved country. In a more sophisticated state, write-in initiatives would also be considered if presented in a thoughtful manner. Citizens could petition for their individual initiatives, and if enough support was garnered, these initiatives could be presented in a separate section of the annual book. When radical ideas make perfect sense, they cease to be radical.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Time Machine Story...
Once upon a time, many years from now, team of slightly misguided but benevolent scientists saw the world and they saw that it was bad. And so they took a good man, who knew a thing or two about public speaking and winning hearts and minds and they used their vast knowledge to send him back in time to create a myth that would give the people of that younger but troubled world a reason to aspire towards their better selves. They had no idea what effect his presence would bring forth, what new futures their tampering would yield, but they suspected things couldn't get any worse.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Wait... Did you really miss Jimmy Spencer's Christmas Party at Mr. B's last night?
I hope you have an extremely good excuse, because there are few things in life as seasonally satisfying as lounging as lizards while Jimmy and friends play it strong and soulful into the night... The assembled pack of singers, swingers, artists, actors, flappers, floppers, retired boxers and withered buglers wore expressions that clearly said one thing: If there is a Christmas spirit, surely it is here in this room with us tonight. For those of us who were there, have you noticed a certain jingle jangle in your stride today? Thank you Jimmy, Marilyn, Joanie, and all the great people at Mr. B's who made for such an unforgettable night!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Excuse me but...
How many years does it take to learn that the only question that really matters here on Community Earth is this: What are YOU capable of translating from the murky, subjective, conceptual realms into so-called concrete reality? What exactly will you bring to the lives of all the others born and unborn? There's lots to choose from. Go ahead pick something. You're allowed.
The internal theater of the individual mind is hypnotic and entrancing, and many of us will spend our lives in there bathing in our own sauces. But when we attempt to realize our visions we become fully human. Does the thought of being trapped by ongoing responsibility and fixed circumstances nauseate you? Does the concreteness of it all insult your fluid dreams? OK then, what alternatives have you come up with? Really?
Why is the road to heaven paved with good intentions? Because thinking and not acting keeps your hands clean. Find dirt. Rich fecund soil. Put your seeds in there and do your loving sweaty damnedest to make them grow like mighty Sequoia. Then you exist. Then you are part of the forest. But you can't see the forest if you are not yet a tree.
I'm Scatman Crothers and I approve this message.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
"Life or Death"
A Soul, half through the Gate, said unto Life:
"What does thou offer me?" And Life replied:
"Sorrow, unceasing struggle, disappointment; after these
Darkness and silence." The Soul said unto Death:
"What does thou offer me?" And Death replied:
"In the beginning what Life gives at last."
Turning to Life: "And if I live and struggle?"
"Others shall live and struggle after thee
Counting it easier where thou hast passed."
"And by their struggles?" "Easier place shall be
For others, still to rise to keener pain
Of conquering Agony!" "and what have I
To do with all these others? Who are they?"
"Yourself!" "And all who went before?" "Yourself."
"The darkness and the silence, too, have end?"
"They end in light and sound; peace ends in pain,
Death ends in Me, and thou must glide from Self
To Self, as light to shade and shade to light again.
Choose!" The Soul, sighing, answered: "I will live."
Voltairine de Cleyre
— Philadelphia, May 1892
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Why is it that a vacuum craves filling? What's the science there, and why must I be a victim of its tyrannical influx? Something empty, like my stomach, will fill itself to maximum capacity with something enormous, like an entire bag of pasta loaded with sauce and Parmesan cheese... Is the vacuum just trying to fill a void? That empty hole deep inside? Poor vacuum. But please, not at my expense. These holidays are filled with vacuums, and my elastic waste-bands are already compromised. Take your science elsewhere.
("Obese Eames" by Mark Wentzel)
Monday, December 17, 2007
Good art or cinema or literature etc. should selectively appeal to the chakras. Since most of us don't believe in the religious implications of these nodes, just look where they are instead: Mind, VIsion, Voice, Heart, Guts, Groin, Bowels. These aspects of our being are your audience's first responders to your creation. What are you saying or not saying to each of these areas? Some very interesting art appeals to just one chakra, although the argument could be made that "better" art takes in to consideration at least two or three.
(Painting by Alex Grey)
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Youth and the aging wunderkinds...
Two films that make for a very powerful combination are Sean Penn's "Into the Wild" and Francis Ford Coppola's "Youth without Youth." I strongly recommend that you see both these films in the same week, so that they might marinate and intermingle in your psyche over the holidays. I saw them over two consecutive nights and my dreams have been utterly insane ever since. I had to take a nap today, just because there was more unconscious work to be done as a result of this cinematic cocktail.
"Into the Wild" is the better film. Despite some crude edges and some over-indulgences, it delivers something very true, profound, and lasting in a way that most films simply don't. It succeeds in reaching our most yearning core, our most essential, creative selves, and forces us to confront the mysterious life-force, the one flowing through us this very second. How are you honoring its potential? How are you testing its limits? How are you learning its language and giving its gifts?
"Youth without Youth" is a fascinating, philosophical concoction. To be sure, it's a little in love with itself and its conceits. It's a little bit of a pompous fat man in a beret. It's profundity is fake. But, it addresses huge questions in utterly beguiling, dream-like ways, using every ounce of cinematic mastery that a man like Coppola has at his disposal.
OK, It's not a great film, though it may be important. And of course it's a commercial flop. But the reviewers are stupid. You don't shoot a guy down for trying an audacious experiment. You don't fry a fat cat who's trying to learn how to hunt mice again after years of being fed from a crystal dish. And most importantly: Can you review a dream? What would be the point? I only wish that Coppola had gone further and stopped trying to impress us.
Today, Coppola is making the films he wants to make. As a youth he made films that an older filmmaker would make, and in some ways now he makes films that a young, inexperienced, but hungry director would make. His insecurities and his overcompensations are there for us to see as are his pretentions. He's read too many books lately. But somewhere in all of this dreamy jumble is a fascinating meditation on the web of time and space and aging and consciousness and language and the ambitions that drive us and fuck us up. It's definitely worth seeing, as flawed as it is... It seizes upon the tired tropes of Nazi totalitarianism and a romantic European moodiness to do some heavy lifting, and there are definitely some things that would cause Sofia to blanche and go "Oh my God Dad, that's so embarrassing!" Still, I applaud anyone who has strived for and achieved that creative freedom (even if it took hawking millions of bottles of mediocre, overpriced wine in an all-asphyxiating, consumer-driven, mediocrity-loving system.)
Both films want to tap the fountain of youth in all its purpose-giving glory. Penn wants to remind us of its beauty, vigor, and sense of inner-navigation. He posits a loving but haphazard universe where mighty bears pass you by and tiny berries can kill. To Coppola youth is all about ability - the mysterious source of energy and brain power that enable a being to achieve and tackle massive projects. As I approach my 40th year, I'm beginning to taste my mortality in new ways that must be considered. These films are arrive as if on cue. Hope you enjoy them...
Friday, December 14, 2007
Researchers have found that redheads require greater amounts of anesthesia, but other research shows that women with naturally red hair require less of the painkiller pentazocine than do either women of other hair colors or men of any hair color. A study showed redheaded women had a greater analgesic response to that particular pain medication than men. A follow-up study by the same group showed that redheaded men and women (and mutant "redhead" mice) had a greater analgesic response to morphine-6-glucuronide. Studies have also confirmed that red heads do indeed have more sex than women of any other hair color. [from Wikipedia "Red Hair"]
("Untitled" from Women series by Sarah Bay Williams)
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Tinkering with god...
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is, well... a very gigantic particle accelerator that lives in Franco-Swiss borderlands. And you might want to follow its progress. Why?
Because: Scientists are pretty sure that when they flick the "on" switch sometime next May(?), they will encounter the Higgs Boson particle (the so-called "god particle"), that mysterious force that gives mass to atoms, anchovies, and aircraft carriers.
Sure, that's important, but the real reason to pay attention is that there's a chance ("one in a google" say scientists) that when they crank up this collider it will either A) generate a black hole that will devour the Earth, or B) destabilize the fundamental vacuum state of the universe, causing the entire cosmos to collapse upon itself. Which is good if you're done with time and space, but not great if you've got any sort of long term plans.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
How does Karma work?
Does the Titanic sink because of the hubris of its builders, the misdeeds of the captain or the collected naughtiness of the passengers? Does each individual own their own slice of karma or is it shared and therefore corruptible by one bad apple? If it is in our nature to act in ways that might be perceived as negligent by others (for example) are we instantly folded in to the karmic cycle of negative returns? Some of these questions addressed indirectly here.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
What I've learned at Xmas parties...
It's that jolly time of year when all the good little boys and girls gather to share in glad tidings and good will to all. OK, it's that time when you see the worst of people, for rarely (in urban centers) do holiday gatherings succeed in celebrating anything other than network building, ostentatiousness, greed, and egomania. Gluttony and lust too (is that seven?). An example: I know a successful woman who will not recognize my existence when I see her in a group setting. Of course she jumps up and chats gregariously when someone who is related to her work or has a predetermined high social value appears. Basically, in public, she ignores people she deems unimportant. It's nauseating to see. There's lots of this in LA of course. Famous and "successful" people are always let off the hook for bad behavior in person. It's part of our culture of reverence and wishful thinking. If we suck up and smile to our ill-behaved "superiors," maybe some magic dust will fall on us. Meanwhile, our malice, jealousy, and yearning for public hangings and humiliations is reserved for a special place: The media. Including blogs I guess...
Wolves, the animals, I can deal with. They are honest in their violence. It's the human wolf pack in sheep's clothing and fake fur (and Prada shoes) you gotta watch out for... Oh, and Wolf Blitzer too. What is he - a tough reindeer with five-o-clock shadow? I don't get it. Bah Humbug.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Could there be a cross-party presidential ticket? How radical would that be! The risk, of course, is that the key issues could freeze in a succession of political stalemates, but imagine a situation where each issue was hotly debated at the national level and that intelligent, livable compromises were made that the entire country could agree upon to live with. Imagine a tangible purpling of the country to an unprecedented degree - doing away with this nonsensical red/blue division that turns our country into a dumb college football game replete with loyal hooting fans on either set of bleachers. Hawks and Doves and Elephants and Donkeys and... er Bunnies, fusing into wise Owls. Can we change the national bird while we're at it? I mean I love an eagle, but they're a little baggage-heavy to keep flying at this point...
Ideally, this coming together would be a time for us to reassess our domestic status, redefine our national process (and identity), and reconsider our place in the world. Obama/McCain seems like the most functional team (their differences are mighty, but their personalities suggest a willingness to talk turkey). Hillary/Rudy would be an incendiary show, but I don't think much would get accomplished. The most interesting (and perhaps dynamic) combination would be Dennis Kucinich and Mike Huckabee. I guarantee you that a handful of universal justices would come from that duo. It would be a nerdy time of Grecian Formula and pencil necks in the Executive Branch, but perhaps also a great time of renewal for US.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Some regard for human frailty...
One of the great scenes in film history... Talky, yes, but covers a lot of ground.
I think one of the ongoing themes here at Gazpachot is the acknowledgment of something along the lines of human frailty - the foibles, intricacies, and mysteries that drive us, that lie beyond our basic comprehension but are not completely undetectable either. And that's an interesting area to explore, I think, and I could go on and on like this, as you've probably guessed. Therefore, it's probably time to add a layer to the thin skins and try something different. We shall see. For today, happy second birthday to Gazpachot, my daily dopamine.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Friday, December 07, 2007
Crawling towards bio-photogenics...
Is physical beauty an end or an accident? In other words, do our genes aspire to pulchritude or is that anthropomorphic thinking? Does our DNA follow a hierarchical structure wherein extreme beauty is a fixed, predestined alignment of nucleotides, like three bars on a slot machine, or is it just a random configuration that, inadvertently, has huge ramifications in our society? This line of questioning will inevitably paint one into the intelligent design vs. evolution corner. Messy. Beauty seems to be desirable, a hot commodity on the brutal ladder of self-distinction... But is there a biological reason for the hotties among us to attract so much attention? Is our species destined to photograph well too (see yesterday's entry)?
Thursday, December 06, 2007
More and more things are being designed to photograph well. Everything must be ready to assert it's desirability along the publicity circuit by looking it's cinematic best on film. Function be damned, utility bah! Take a trip to Taschen or any slick bookstore that sells eye-candy books and magazines. What do you see? Thousands upon thousands of slick images. Everything's for sale, and even if it's not, it should look like it might be. A world full of picture-perfect homes and household items, cars and coffee bars, gloves and gas masks, lounge-chairs and ladies, all primped and plucked and positioned for the all-validating lens.
Of course, things made for the camera seldom hold up to real life scrutiny. What looked good from a distance through a wide-angle lens is uncomfortable in person - we see cheap and poorly put together materials that won't last. That last bit is important. Nothing should last. Once the picture is taken, the object is irrelevant.
Final thought: in a soulless world the camera steals nothing.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
The temperature of wisdom...
Cold wisdom speaks to the brain. It borrows from external experience, provides facts and tactics, management tips and heuristics, any critical information that demands immediate, precise, instructional delivery. Cold wisdom would be warped and degraded by any emotional content. It is practical in nature, concerned with immediate survival in the here and now and coping with the stuff of daily existence.
Warm wisdom speaks to the soul. It borrows from internal experience, addresses pain and mystery and eternal questions of life and death. It soothes anxieties, consoles the world-weary, and enlightens the confused or the distracted. It speaks to the core individual in their own language. It is irrepressibly human. Humanity at its pulsing, conceptual best.
Note that the drowning victim needs neither warm nor cold wisdom. He or she will take hold of any branch or hand that's within reach. Emergencies are rarely philosophical events.
Monday, December 03, 2007
No sir, I'm not a political innocent, but I still find myself shocked by some people's persuasions. For example, Dennis Hopper's conservatism has been quietly unnerving me for a while now. Common sense would dictate that this freewheeling son of the Sixties would be a life long anti-establishment radical lefty. But no, Hopper's long rejected his radical youth. Today his rebellions are played out in 18 holes with pals like Newt Gingrich and John McCain. Yup, Hopper's a card carrying Republican (since Reagan) and he voted for both Bushes.
So today, at work, it dawned on me... More than anything Hopper's always been about chasing dreams. Personal visions. When he was a young man that meant rejecting society, this so-called reality, in order to define and ferret out internal (i.e. "privatized") notions of artistic and hedonistic freedoms. Right there you've got some fundamental seeds of conservative thought.
And of course, all that wild dream-chasing took money. Cashola. Lot's of it. When certain privileged members of the "ME" generation ran out of ideals and found themselves with some very expensive habits, the call was a simple one: Screw paying taxes, screw big government, screw the welfare state, screw all the smelly hippies and their Commie ways, and screw the boring liberal agenda... I want what's mine and I want it now! Then when the drugs wore off, and (some) senses returned, people like Hopper realized that they weren't interested in the Left in any state of consciousness. Holding their own feet to the same fires they held other's to, they openly admit that they want to protect their wealth, make government as small as possible and get on with their aesthetic and creative lives. In pastel golf slacks if need be.
So OK, now I get it.
Hear it from the Elephant's trunk here.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Political mascots of the future...
A zorse or zebrula is the offspring of a zebra stallion and a horse mare; the rarer reverse pairing is sometimes called a hebra. It is a zebroid: this term refers to any hybrid equine with zebra ancestry. Zonkies are part of the clan too.