Monday, April 30, 2007

Dying Bee and WASP colonies...

You've read the stories about the bees dropping like flies. Colony Collapse Disorder. It's horrible. More than quarter of the US's bee colonies have simply disappeared - lost their way back to their hives and died. I've always admired the complexity and bold design of bee societies. I just hope this has nothing to do with us. Even the idea that cellphone towers or genetically modified crops or global warming could be the culprit, makes me ill.

Speaking of dying groups of bees, I was accused of being a bad WASP the other day. Too open and expressive to don the moniker (or the Lilly Pulitzer). Not cold and composed enough. What a huge compliment! I grew up surrounded by swarms of WASPs who prided themselves on the oppressive buzz of stoic uptightness and frozen plastic-Machiavellian personas that only thinly veiled a desperately vacuous hyper-materialism. No affinity there. And technically, I'm not even a WASP. I think I'm a White-Franco-Russo-Anglo-Germanic-Huguenot-Protestant. WFRAGHP? None to catchy. There go my WFRAGHP Handbook residuals.

("Mrs F C Winston Guest (aka Cee Zee Guest) and her son Alexander Michael Douglas Dudley Guest in front of their Grecian temple pool on the ocean-front estate, Villa Artemis, Palm Beach." by Slim Aarons, 1955)

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Who cheesed my move?

Having too many expectations is an obvious set up for disappointment. Having few is, in theory, not a problem, and is a key to walking the humble path. But in practice, ignoring your fantasy (afterall what is an expectation but a desire for reality to comply to your imagination) can chip away at one's dignity and one's place in the social space. Does that matter to you?

If you are known not to have high expectations, human nature dictatates that you are denying yourself access the good stuff. People tend to save that good bottle of wine, that special chocolate, that artesanal cheese, for the people who seem to demand it by nature. And it isn't just stuff you might be cutting yourself off from - it's access to modes of living, services, ideas, environments that have been placed "on reserve" for those who go to lengths to demand them.

You've worked hard and done well to suppress your ego and your expectations, and you really don't mind "second class" treatment, since you don't view the world in that way. But you do get glimpses of other assholes, who seem to be reaping benefits right and left from nothing more than their sense of entitlement. And you've got to admit that gets you in the gut.

The people who are ruthlessly hungry for power are the ones who tend to get it (by whatever means necessary). Business is all about this dynamic of course. In a world driven by competition, what we would instinctively call bad behavior is well rewarded and sets a tone that reverberates throughout society. Do selfish, greedy, egomaniacs rule the world? If so, do you admire this? What are you entitled to?

As they say in Russia: "You get free cheese only in a mousetrap."

("Monica Bellucci Covered in Caviar" by Unknown)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Penetrating Wind...

The image of hexagram 57 is that of a gentle wind dispersing storm clouds.

A wind that changes direction often, even a very powerful one, will disperse nothing- it only stirs up the sky. The wind that causes real change is the one that blows consistently in the same direction.

When faced with a difficult problem to resolve or a goal we wish to achieve, we often are tempted to take striking and energetic actions. Though it is possible to achieve temporary results in this fashion, they tend to collapse when we cannot sustain the vigorous effort. More enduring accomplishments are won through gentle but ceasless penetration, like that of a soft wind blowing steadily in the same direction. The truth of the sage penetrates to us in this way, and this hexagram comes now to remind you that this is how you should seek to penetrate to others.

The advice given to you is threefold. First, establish a clear goal; the wind that continually changes direction has no real effect. Second, apply the principle of gentle penetration to yourself; by elimating your own inferior qualities you earn influence over others. Third, avoid aggressive or ambitious maneuvers now, these are rooted in desire and fear and will only serve to block the aid of the Creative. The desirable influence is the one that flows naturally from maintaining a proper attitude.

In your interactions with others, bend like the willow. By remaining adaptable, balanced, accepting, and independent, and by steadily moving in a single direction, you gain the clarity and strength that make possible a series of great successes.

(From the I Ching, Hexagram 57: "Sun- The Gentle - Wind over Wind")

Friday, April 27, 2007

Mind-Body Problem for Beginners...

Do this:

Make clockwise circles on the floor with your right foot.
Now, without looking at your foot, use the index finger on your right hand to draw the number "6" in the air.
Did your foot change direction?
Yes it did.

What else is out of your control?

(photo by Tierney Gearon)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Borrowed Equity, Charlatans, & How We Win our Wars...

Have you ever had a party and wondered who that loud, commanding "personality" was, the one you didn't invite? Have you ever deferred to someone who had a sturdy head perched on their shoulders, one that demanded deference? Have you placed your political hopes in a candidate, one who glowed charismatically and was loved by the camera? Do you ever let someone go ahead of you on line, the dark silent beauty with storied eyes? Does Stephen Colbert the character make you wonder about Stephen Colbert the man?

For those of us without a verifiable degree, an earned honorific, much of our value in society essentially comes down to our public performance (accompanied by our lazy resistance to fact checking). Two actor-driven films that drive home this point are Matador and Color Me Kubrick. Both films are seriously flawed, even forgettable, and yet they are also as true and absurd and as demented as a long night in a big city on someone else's bar tab. In Matador, Pierce Brosnan's ultra-human post-Bond performance (who knew?) seems filled with lies and red herrings or might they be truthful confessions? It creates an effective polarity. Color Me Kubrick takes the hall of mirrors effect much further... It could have you squirming in your seat for the first half hour... when's this schtick going to give way to a proper movie? you'll likely ask... But the film's comedic power and cinematic relentlessness will win you over. The layers of irony and revenge that lurk beneath really stack up. Especially when you discover that this film was made by a former employee of Mr. Kubrick's (clearly there was an ax to grind). John Malkovich's fey faux Kubrick is so preposterous, so silly, so cumulatively abundant, we ultimately surrender (as do his victims) to his quackery, shifting accents, iridescent butterfly pins, and striped pajama bottoms held in place around his fat boy girth with a yard or so of rope.

We are always in charge of our public persona, whether we decalre it or not. We are all in drag of one kind or another. There are an infinite number of messages to project. I remember when my father stopped wearing Brooks Brother's suits and started wearing blue (collar) work shirts and paint spattered khakis and making sculptures of wood and found objects. It was his declaration of independence from a cold system of compliance and humiliation. I imagine it was his way of eschewing a world where you were assessed by your show of belonging and your wardrobe. I admire him for that.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Stained Neuron...

The brain is wider than the sky,
For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include
With ease, and you beside.

-Emily Dickinson

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Abkhazia is a place both imaginary and real, whose existence as a country has never been legally confirmed. Though the region managed to win its independence from Georgia in the 90's it remains unrecognized as its own state. This haunted place hardly moves, crippled by its lack of resources and its exile from history. The French-American photographer Eric Baudelaire has beautifully captured the limbo-essence of this non-nation in his book "Imaginary States."

Take a tour of Abkhazia here.

("Foundations" by Eric Baudelaire)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Quarterly Report...

As Gazpachot enters its sixth quarter, there is much to celebrate. The site remains ad free, our staff of writers and researchers continue to work tirelessly and without incident for a daily spoonful of Fancy Feast, and our humble awards shelf has been converted into a thousand-foot-long glass encased awards hallway. We couldn't have done it without you of course, and so please accept our pre-invitation to the upcoming all-expenses-paid "Gazpachot Retreat on Mustique" this coming winter.

Some of you have noted, in emails, the scarcity of comments on Gazpachot (which I find slightly ironic). Others have noted that the process of leaving comments now requires registering with Google. I know, I'm sorry. It's innevitable that we will all become card-carrying Googlites and Wikipetes in the years ahead.

As for the comments themselves, or lack thereof, what can I say? I know from the stat counter that more than three hundred of you are looking at the site a day. Some for less than a fraction of a nanosecond, others for more than an hour. If you are shy or lazy or underwhelmed or fingerless or rendered feeble by this little blog, so be it.

Maybe blogs have jumped the shark? Maybe we here should just stick to our other passtime - counting Priuses as they whir silently by in the affluent neighborhoods of LA? I don't know. All I do know is that we find ourselves compelled to start the day wrestling with a vague notion and cobbling it into a digital artifact. What happens after that, we allow to be out of our hands.

All that said, enjoy yourselves, enjoy the site, don't be afraid to chime in if you feel the urge, and please stay tuned for more slanted musings and churning bile from the cockles of our soupy hearts.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

For Joey...

who is stronger (and soon to be faster) than us all...
Keep those knees bending and be nice to your nurse!
love, Paul

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Black Hobo Cats of the Hollywood Hills...

Looking for a pet? The Black Hobo Cats of the Hollywood Hills have a warm and clownish character, lustrous coats, fat bellies, deep, complex souls, and a touch of snobbery that seems wholely unjustified. It's not unlikely that these are the descendents of cats owned by Charlie Chaplin or Lauren Bacall. The hills are swarming with these incredible animals, and several times a year you will spot the kittens hiding behind your car tires or sleeping high in the branches of a lemon tree. Quite simply, they make the best feline pet one could hope for - they are independent, clean, low maintenance, fantastic and gracefull entertainers, and magnificent bed lumps that breathe gently in the night by your side. They are also fastidious molecule rearrangers. That's what they're doing when they sit around for hours "doing nothing": They are monitoring the flow of energy, making micro-adjustments so that the galaxies might glide past one another smoothely. If you find one and want to take it home, know this first: the hobo cat must find you. Choose you. How will you know? You will know.

(photo by Paul Gachot)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Barrett at Bordello...

The madcap spirit of Syd Barrett was alive and unwell at the swinging Bordello in downtown LA last night. Twenty bands performed a single song each from Barrett's significant oeuvre. The switch-over from band to band was a drag, but certainly faster than it would have been in 1969. The music spanned the spectrum from downright bad to transcendent. The highlight for me was a haunting performance of "Chapter 24" from Piper at the Gates of Dawn played on wine glasses filled with water. The Good Listeners, seen here, were great, but the crap sound mix did not do their chugging rethink of "See Emily Play" too much justice. Kennedy, perhaps the best live performer LA has at the moment (or at least the smarmiest), dedicated his band's psycho-pop version of "Octopus" to Sid Vicious and segued into a crunchy version of "Breathe" from Dark Side of the Moon, "for all the girls in the audience who have no idea who the fuck Syd Barrett is, but will remember your first boyfriend getting you stoned and taking your bra off to this one!" Most distracting of all were the two Russian (mafia) couples in the plush pillowed banquette right off the stage in various stages of undress and fornication throughout the evening. One suspects they took the name of the venue literally?

(photo "The Good Listeners" by Paul Gachot)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Mine, Woodchip, Pile...

The things we build begin as natural resources and end up in piles. What happens in between? Consider computers for example ...

The life of a new computer is about two to three years. In that time, the owner pours pieces of self into this machine, hits send, or save, or download a few thousand times, and this becomes part of the collective digital landfill accumulating all around us. Computers are basically woodchippers that take in large chunks of information at certain points of entry and then spit out bits and fragments across the planet.

Strange materials are drawn from the earth to build a computer. Minerals. Silica. Copper. Gaping holes are left where the minerals are mined. On the other end of the cycle, dead computers are dumped by the hundreds of thousands in piles as high as the eye can see. Apparently, these "laptop mountains" are in Nigeria. They beg to be photographed (Mr. Burtynsky?)

("Oxford Tire Pile, Westley California - #8" by Ed Burtynsky)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The fury of the dread of the nothingness...

Admiring the incredible drive of the anxiety-ridden today. I've got a front row seat. Man they get things accomplished! "Feel the fear and do it anyway" is their motto...

"Anxiety and lust are evicting the older passions." - Mason Cooley

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Looking up the food chain...

There's a big hubub lately over what scientists are calling the "cognitive reserve" of chimpanzees. Chimps in the wild do not have a chance to show off many of their innate skills since their environment doesn't call for them. But in a laboratory, where conditions and sophisticated tools are controllable, these monkeys are extremely adaptable and appear to be full of "hidden" talents. They perform better than humans on certain memory tests on laboratory computers. They adapt their social behaviors to the confines of human architecture. They paint. They drink beer and watch television. They get fat and depressed.

Of course, the natural habitat doesn't make full use of the capabilities of the animal. We instinctively know this about ourselves. I remember going crazy at nights when I was a kid because I didn't know if I might be the world's greatest opera singer, or ski jumper, or moon rock analyst, etc. How could you know unless you tried? I remember being jealous of all of those kids in the USSR and China who were put through rigorous tests that revealed their "cognitive reserves" so that they might be channeled into the exact field where they belonged. Now that I think about it, they always seemed to end up as gymnasts, scientists, or workers, but I assumed there were many more jobs that you just didn't hear about.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Anatomy of a Nightmare...

The truth is out there. Or is it in us? We put a premium on its value because finding truth is extremely difficult. Fantasy, on the other hand (aka delusion, aka, denial, aka neurosis) is a cheap date and can be easily found swiggling around on just about any old corner of the psyche.

Emotional truth, comes to us in our dreams cloaked in mesmerizing symbols that baffle and prod us gently as we sleep. A nightmare then, is when a deep emotional truth breaks through its symbolic cloak and reveals itself to our brain unadorned. This is a painful and jarring experience. We can feel the extent of the disruption when we awake from a nightmare, sweaty, heart pounding, terrified. The truth hurts. This is why so many of us opt for fantasy and symbolic living.

Are we meant to seek the truths that lurk within? Is the pain a deterrent or a necessary toll for self-enlightenment? Are truth-seekers then, masochists by default? If you've uncovered a great deal of truth, what are your dreams like? Are they less symbolic and more realistic? And finally, how does the truth benefit us and can we handle the responsibilities that awareness demands?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Let there be mystery...

There is an elegant and powerful atheism put forward by great thinkers such as Colin McGinn and Daniel Dennett, and I insist that their arguments be firmly set on the table and included in all religious discussions. But the common garden variety atheism you're bound to run into often has a whiff of bogusness. The problem with most self-proclaimed atheists is that they replace the word "god" with the word "science" and think they've solved the puzzle. When science becomes just another faith-based system to combat our fear of the unknown, the religious impulse seems all the more attractive. Is it possible that most of the atheists you meet are people who, for one reason or another, need to put themselves first?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Odds and Ends...

1) I want to temper my rant against I AM LUCKY Water and the folks at Aquamantra. They, specifically, are not evil or insincere and I didn't mean to imply that. They are essentially doing what many 21st C upstarts are doing, using the marketplace to spread what they consider to be something good for the world. Unfortunately, it is impossible to tell the innocent water bearers from the wolves in sheep's clothing. Furthermore, I'm a little wary of a world where good intentions are funneled into the marketplace. It's like feeding baby bunnies to a monster - perhaps the monster starts to look better, fuzzier, cuter, but it's still a monster. I will say one more thing about I AM LUCKY: That same day after I drank my first bottle, my bank owned up to a $92 error in my favor. When was the last time that happened? Why never of course...

2) I've officially decided that I am NOT the kind of person who enthusiastically says, "Keepin' Busy!" in response to the question, "How's it going?" Don't get me wrong, busy is not bad, but busy for the sake of busy, raising "busy" as the ultimate flag of fulfillment, is a neurotic impulse super-reinforced by an alienated society of drones being taken advantage of by a gluttonous economy.

3) I could not bring myself to cut a peanut butter and jelly sandwich diagonally. All other "adult" sandwiches get sliced from corner to corner round these parts. Why does the PB&J merit the down the middle cross-cut?

4) Today I finish my taxes. I know, last minute, but I'm doing them myself, and it's been a horror. Truly. Can I tell you that yesterday, after six solid hours of filling out forms and refilling out forms and guessing what's what, and getting lost in the nauseating, nail-biting minutiae of tax law, what a sheer pleasure it was to go to the gym and watch old footage of Led Zeppelin kick out the jams on the in-house music channel... I howled with uncontrollable laughter at their sweaty poses, peacock seriousness, and wicked pyrotechnics. Who did their taxes? Did Jimmy Page ever fill out form 8829? What a wonderful world of contrasts we live in!

Friday, April 13, 2007

How accurate are the signs?

I've always believed in a richly symbolic world, where all things and actions are connected to some deeper archetypal or mythological or obscured aspect of our consciousness. The love of mythology, Jung, Joseph Campbell, surrealism, dream logic, of letting one thing represent another, is in my family, and was certainly a huge part of my college experience. The sense has always been: we do what we do to personalize the patterns of our destiny, to monitor our free will, to experience the uniqueness of our snowflake in the blizzard, to live our Hero's journey across well worn pathways.

But lately, I've been asking myself, what if all things and actions aren't just the tip of a massively submerged iceberg? What if they are simply "real" and all of this symbolic graftwork is simply the act of shrouding "reality" in cloaks of "non-reality"? What if I am missing the full feeling of reality and altering it to derive some vague symbolic value? What if I am using these symbols as a lens to warp non-compliant reality to my unresolved unconscious needs? I've already established that needs from our past predominate those from our present. Is this attempt to find meaning elsewhere, in the mystical realms, just neurotic behavior? Should we strive to experience the moment as the moment and stop adorning it with our symbolic baggage? Or, is the richness of life contained in this symbolic living, in appreciating the parallelity and mystery of dreams and myth and reality?

It's definitely a mind-bender. The plot thickens once again...
I wonder what the IRS would have to offer to this quandary?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

God Bless the Child That's Got His Own...

I had the oportunity of watching a group of small children playing on Easter. There's always that one kid who just kills you, who stands apart, listening to the voices in their little head, more doubting than participating. It got me thinking...

The way a child thinks, and more importantly, feels about his or her self sometimes sets a template for life. The identity the child builds is largely based on the external messages they receive (or perceive) about themself. This becomes a sort of psychic tattoo which lays down an unconcsious pattern of behavior and self-identification over the course of a life. Now of course there are other factors, and of course this pattern may be overshadowed by experience. In some cases, however, the child's (unresolved) feelings may be so strong that the unconsious template exerts enormous influence on the adult life. The will of the unconscious feelings is to fulfill themselves in reality. So, the child who doubts might end up as a prosecuting attourney or a suspicious mate, the child who is angry might become a dictatorial CEO or an abusive parent, the child who feels powerless may have trouble finding a career at all or renounce the day to day world altogether. If the pattern is clearly negative, the adult must confront the original feelings, no matter how old or repressed they may be. How? I'm not sure. I'm not a doctor, I just play one on the internet. God bless the child that's got his own!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Mantra Branding...

My first night in a (temporary) new place. A cat-sitting adventure. Sarah away with her family, me alone, the under-crackles of new beginnings are afoot. The dreams are strong, the senses are sharp. The throat is dry from days of dust from exposure to things long still put in motion. In the night, scratching furiously at who knows what... real or imaginary bug bites, cat allergies, boiling blood, I lie tossing and turning, I need water. I grab for a water bottle in an unfamiliar kitchen, eyes squinting... It says, "I AM LUCKY" on the bottle where it usually says Arrowhead or Fiji or whatever. I'm too tired and fuzzy to process this gimmick. My anti-marketing shields are down. Frankly, I am struck by the positivity of this water. Back to bed.

This morning, a closer inspection indeed reveals some very high concept H2O. I AM LUCKY is a product put out by a company called Aquamantra. Their slogan is "Stimulate Your Soul." The water is "energy enhanced." The back of the bottle reads: "I AM LUCKY... This is the mantra we want you to think while you drink. Our work at Aquamantra is inspired by quantum physics, which simply states that information travels on waves of energy. The reason your are drinking I AM LUCKY is because you are resonating with the energy to be lucky." For the full monty, do check out their excruciating website.

Is that California cheese I smell? Sure enough, I AM LUCKY is bottled in Dana Point, just a few miles down the coast from LA. I AM LUCKY taps into a particular New New Age Californian zeitgeist, coming soon to a town near you. This new mindset is steeped in such swiftly spreading cultural nodes as Co-Creationism, The Power of Intention, The Secret, etc. In a nutshell, these well-meaning, pseudo-scientific movements ask us to be open to universal energies that will help us envision and emanate the future(s) we wish to inhabit. These are old, ideas re-branded and re-worded by and for crisp spiritual beings wishing to side step the crunchy shortcomings of the Old New Age. The New New Age couples loosely with the exploding Green movement into a branding juggernaut poised to enmesh our nation in a whole new mess of psycho-marketing babble. Are you ready?

Are marketers' forays into spiritual and environmental realms sincere? Not sincere? Half baked? Evil? I'm going to beat the system at its own game and say that the choice is mine. Mass expression (i.e. propaganda) may be in the hands of advertisers and governments and modern day soothsayers, but interpretation is always in the hands of the individual. There are, of course, powers that would like us to forget that fact, and their methods are insidious. So choose your interpretations carefully and good luck! If you need some, I know where you can drink it up...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Goodbye 2278...

Your breathtaking vistas and ramshackle structure kept us laughing and loving. We will truly miss you, our yellow submarine in the sky with indescribable wallpapers... may your next owners treat you with the respect you deserve.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Saddam's relics...

"[Iraq] is trying to figure out whether to save [Saddam's monuments] as memorials to history or wipe them out. The debate goes to the core of the nation's effort to redefine itself and reconcile with its painful past. In recent weeks the matter has crystallized around Iraq's most famous landmark, the Victory Arch, two sets of gargantuan swords held by giant fists modeled after Mr. Hussein's. The government had begun to tear it down, but an influential lobby, including the American Embassy, has blocked the dismantling for the time being."

-NYTimes Sunday, April 8

One can't help but wonder, is it really America's decision what stays and what goes? I mean, obviously our "influence" is real, but what effect can this influence have on a young nation? And why would we want to keep these arches in place? I doubt the reason is aesthetic. As the old saying goes: "When smashing idols, save the pedestals. They may come in handy."

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Crap is risen...

"I think of it as a mass psychosis of unprecidented dimension, in which the people of Earth have created a form of architecture which is against life, insane, image-ridden, hollow. The ulginess which has been created in the cities of the world, and the banality and pretentiousness of many 20thC buildings, streets, and parking lots have overwhelmed the earth."

-Christopher Alexander (via Adbusters)

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Is Fate to be Resisted?

Some people, like me, will spend their lives banging their heads against a brick wall hoping to break on through to the other side. Life begs exploration, fate be damned. There are dreams to realize, spaces to fill, uncharted territories to chart. Let's get on with it! But The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen), a film I recommend, shows us a character who takes the opposite tack. After a successful (but ultimately failed) career in a corrupt government, this character comes to terms with his fate as a mailman in a newly reunified Germany. No bitterness, no anxiety, no yearning. It's not a resignation, a surrender, nor a renouncement, none of these negative spins apply. Just a total acceptance of the exact circumstances he finds himself in. I found this startling, so antithetical to my American fidgetiness. I was deeply moved.

The Lives of Others is the kind of film that gives us a remarkably complex story draped around some very simple ideas. Often these films fail sagging under their contrivances and didactic ways. Not this one.

(Painting by Mark Tansey)

Friday, April 06, 2007

City hidden by light...

One of the greatest sins of all in Hollywood is to discuss your intentions. To reveal your plans is to out yourself as a dreamer. There are, of course, no shortage of those here, but I think that the "LA LA Land" stereotype eclipses the healthy number of no-nonsense doers and achievers there are here. Were that face of LA to be more known, it would be fierce enough to pierce the armor of any New Yorker's superiority complex - for a nanosecond at least. But the real creativity and power of this town remains mostly hidden beneath a shroud of blaring publicity. A cloaking device. A city secret (just like the "rain" in Portland, OR).

Los Angeles is a fascinating place once you get the hang of it. In many ways, some of them described here for you today, LA's sister city would have to be Washington DC. There is a strange parallelity.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Make art/Live art...

Above the door to his studio, author William Styron posted a quotation from Gustave Flaubert:

“Be regular and orderly in your life so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

As much as I can truly relate to this idea, I also find it repellent. It reminds me of some bogus quality that runs rampant in art. The fundamental disconnect between thought and action. Poets writing revolutionary couplets in their ivory towers, who wouldn't dare pick up a gun or a protest sign. Painters who paint scandalous images, and lead perfect bourgeois lifestyles.

True, an argument can be made that it is the artists role to pose questions, to provoke emotion, to hold up a mirror, to mock, to pursue whim, and so on - but NOT to engage in the real world. Proust said he had to renounce the real world in order to write. Like I say, I can relate. Perhaps it's childish, but I find myself curiously drawn to those who refuse to compartmentalize. Those who live and die by their own visions and proclamations. Who live their art.

William Styron was a great author. His last book, Darkness Visible, an autobiography of sorts, shows that he was no Southern gentleman debating over which seersucker jacket to wear. But as he aged, he did exile himself to his work and his depression. One wonders what Salvador Dali or GG Allin or Bjork or Ghandi or (insert your own, better examples of people whose irregularity and disorderliness and violence and originality are overt and sublime) would have said to him had they chanced upon him holed up in his studio.

(Photo by Martin Kovalik)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Spaghetti Head...

Moving presents all sorts of interesting philosophical crossroads. High on the list is what to save and what to toss. Do I lug around these boxes of precious writings and dusty whatnots for the rest of my life? I guess I'm more of a tosser (go ahead and giggle British folk). It feels good to get rid of things. To let go of the past and focus on the future. Then again, there's a strong note of self-editing in the act of tossing. There's the declaration: I don't need this materialistic detritus from my past anymore... then comes the ceremonial jettison, crowd cheers, bow. Underneath: I don't want this crap because it makes me nauseated to see it. So goes the subtext.

The timeline of my life is in shambles. I've moved so many times and tossed so many things, the evidence is just not there to assemble a proper chronology of my life. What about memory you say? Well, that, dear readers, is in shambles too. So many present moments have been about yearning for a better future that the memory files are never recording properly, and thus I am left with an archive consisting of a fantastic muddle of time-warped spaghetti strands. One day perhaps I'll attempt to unravel that ball of pasta.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

New digits...

Well, all things must pass, and so we are leaving our beloved mothership in the Hollywood Hills. 7 days to go. The place is torn apart and filled with boxes and rectangles of unfaded wallpaper. Micro-memory particles hang in the air, knocked as loose as all the asbestos I've been bumping into in the garage. I will have lived here exactly four years, Sarah slightly less. We're absolutely wrecked at the thought of leaving this place that has been so good to us, but looking forward to the adventure that lies ahead...

I read somewhere recently about a woman who was born without fingerprints (aka Naegeli syndrome). Aside from being able to enjoy a life of gloveless thievery, she was also excused from acts of moving, since she was physically incabable of picking up cardboard boxes. Indeed the tiny, whirling dunes of flesh on our hands and feet act like suction cups, with just enough give and moistness to enhance our grip many times over. No "friction ridge skin zones," no picking up boxes.

I've always wondered how those lizards and insects do all that upside-down walking... What mechanism enables them to saunter where ever they choose, gravity and surface materials be damned? In typical form, Sarah had the correct answer: "They just don't think about it."

("Portrait in Blood" by Larry Gianettino)

Monday, April 02, 2007

Oragami Mommies at Inmo's...

Sarah made these oragami mommies and baby crane fashioned out of napkins on coffee counter. Taken at Inmo's gallery in downtown LA, a place we like very much for its creative daring and punk-by-way-of-Seoul attitude. It used to be Billy's Coffee Shop (on 5th St.) in the lobby of what was the Million Dollar Hotel.

Under the visionary guidance of Inmo, an eccentric Korean entrepreneur with a taste for art and adventure, the place seems to be finding a significant new life. He's gutted the old diner and left the walls raw as a grand peeling, wood-slatted backdrop for consistently interesting shows. The coffee counter from the diner is still right there in the middle of the room where, at openings, wine is served... and please note (other galleries) that Mr. Inmo never serves Charles Shaw. Watch out for Jung, Inmo's serpent-tongued side-kick. He might serve you almonds in a porcelain cup, bow subserviently, and then proceed to shred you to the core with a sly and sadistic personal interrogation that's all in good fun, but definitely not for the sonambulant art observer looking to sustain their fuzzy California mellow.

(photo by Paul Gachot)

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Bullfighting Metaphors 'R Us...

At the risk of repeating myself... The unconscious is stronger than our conscious minds. The conscious mind, coping frantically with the moment to moments chaoses of reality, is full of lies and compromises and confusions which puts it at a disadvantage against the sterling will of the unencumbered unconcious. The moral of the story? We must confront the beast within. Learning to master its muscle will take most of us a lifetime or more. Making presumptions about it, putting a silly hat on its head, or simply running away can easily lead to something we euphamistically call, "bad luck."