Thursday, May 31, 2007

The epiphanies of heroes...

In certain types of lives, if the stars align, there may be a precise moment where the balance tips and the visionary individual can no longer suppress themselves. They've tried to play by the rules. They've tried to fit in. But why? When Elvis stood in front of that microphone for the first time at Sun Studios, something in him snapped and something else emerged. When Jacques Cousteau first saw a movie camera he knew he would dedicate his life to revealing "the blue continent" to the world. These are the mythological breakthroughs that in time become pillars of our human history and catalysts of our evolving consciousness.
My question: How many of these moments, for one reason or another, go unrecognized? How many visionaries and heroes and guiding lights have lived and died in quiet desperation because they caught the 5:10 bus instead of the 5:15?

("Music School" by Stu Mead)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

No dead fish in the workplace...

Happy to report that things are better now in corporate Gazpachotland. I was able to restrain my lobsters and allow the better outcome to prevail. Good me! I'll be busy as hell in June so the posts may be lean.

When and if I find myself again in charge of a corporate/group-work environment, I will a host a monthly "Air Your Grievances Day," in which we all gather round the office plant, and whereupon anyone can come forth, take hold of the speaking sticky-pad, and without repercussions of any kind, speak their uncensored mind about the workplace environment. Total verbal amnesty. The grievances may sting, they may exacerbate new problems, but they will keep the human dynamic alive and bring forth all those niggling little bugaboos that undermine quality-of-life under fluorescent lights. The seafood on the table will always be fresh in my professional domain.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Sinking feelings and the urge to bale...

After a great long weekend, I must now face some broad and specific work related issues that are complicated, demoralizing, and bound to spark my ire. Keep cool Pablo. Think before you speak. This is not the time to be yourself. Therein lies the fall of the empire.

More ejection seat porn here.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Who loves you baby?

I'm not not going to have children but I'm not going to have any now. Too much else to concentrate on. Too selfish too? Perhaps. Why people have children is a very difficult question to answer with total honesty. But I will say this, if you have them, don't let them have you. Sarah and I see lots of people we know having babies and then becoming what can only be described as shut-down, baggy-eyed, domestic zombies (slaves?). The blanched exaustion and the sense of loss is palpable. Is this the biological imperitive? I say no.

In America, there is a tendancy to treat child-rearing exactly like a job: A rigorous regimen of schedules and proceedures and rules and formulas and neurotically curated environments and, of course, self-sacrifice. I find this to be the wrong approach. I'm not saying it's toll free. I'm just saying that a child's initial experience of life on earth should be filled with random experience, the full scale of sensation, humanity, geography, and modernity. There should be lots of uncurated motion out in the real world so that the tot will naturally aquire a taste for the paraents' way of living and all the adventures and complications that occur in the course of the day. Security, yes, of course this is important, and this comes from the constant natural love that parents exude when they are living their lives to the fullest, and from a growing sense that the world is a navigable place when you move through it with a sense of purpose and adventure.

("Baby Suit" by Phillip Toledano)

Sunday, May 27, 2007


I'm torn as to whether I need more human comotion or more trees. This 8 min opening sequence from Tarkovsky's "Solaris" sparks strong arcadian yearnings.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Diane Arbus' Commercial work...

I haven't seen much of Diane Arbus' commercial work. This is from a shoot she did for Bill Blass. Not sure exactly when. Pretty great. Did she have to compromise her personal visions and methods for the marketplace? Judging by this image, I'd say probably not. Surprising! If I come across more of her assignment work I'll post a link.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Zeitgeist? Never!

BACK OFF New York Times! You heard me, get your wire taps out of my cranium and your spyware out of my computer. Take your whiny hometown rag back to your dumb little island. Scramez-vous! You have crossed the line for the last time... The Cinematic Mind (C) and The Cinematic Imagination (TM) are my inventions, and I've got a paper trail to proove it! You can not act like you created them or own them just because your circulation numbers are slightly higher than mine, you rank and file kleptos. Look at that sorry graphic (above) by one Otto Steininger. Does he really think his sad cocktail napkin sketch can hold a candle to this elegant pictogram cobbled together by yours truly back in 2005?

And the article: "This is Your Life (and How You Tell It)". Sheesh! P.U.! Does "writer" Benedict (Arnold) Carey really think it's ok to "borrow" my backbreaking investigations into the effects of cinema on human evolution and consciousness for the sake of his careless little blurb in Tuesday's Science Times on the subject of "personality"? Personality? Is that what your Mommy told you you have Benny? Get real, and get out of the way man! I'm working on ideas that will change humanity forever you amateur arthropod. Have you no sense of where you and your little gossip gazette belong in the scheme of things?

So, I know, you're thinking that now I'm going to open the floodgates and regale you all with MY version of The Cinematic Imagination (TM)... And exactly what turnip cart do you think I fell off of? This stuff is precious people! When the time is right, you will come to know what I've been working on all these years here in this dust free bunker, three thousand feet below the city streets. And then, just maybe, will I accept all of your apologies!

OK, just because I'm an old softy... Here's one more visual piece of the Cinematic puzzle for you to ponder along the course of your daily grind... but whatever you do, don't share it with any of those goons at the Times:

(Top illustration by Otto Steininger, "CineGraphics 2 & 1" by Paul Gachot, 2005)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Portrait of the befuddled as a toddler...

"This race and this country and this life produced me, he said. I shall express myself as I am." - James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Dumbo Octopus and friends...

"A world of twinkling lights, silvery eels, throbbing jellyfish, living strings as lovely as the finest lace and lankey monsters with needlelike teeth." - William Beebe describing the creatures of the abyss on Monterey Bay's seafloor in 1934.

(L to R: Fanfin Seadevil, Deep-sea Siphonophore, and Dumbo Octopus from yesterday's NYTimes article)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Why so few?

"So what are these barriers that keep people from reaching anywhere near their real potential? The answer to that can be found in another question: Which is the most universal human characteristic - Fear or Laziness?"

(The late Louis Mackey from "Waking Life")

Monday, May 21, 2007

Cinematic Blur (with teeth!)...

"As the pattern gets more intricate and subtle, being swept along is no longer enough."

(quote from Waking Life, "Ziggy (and Lukey) Attack" by Sarah Bay Williams)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Procyonophobia in our time...

Do people still use CD's or have iPods and iTunes relegated them to the scrap heap of 20th C? I was trying to play a well-remembered mixed-CD I made in 1999 the other day and sadly, it had been reduced to a complete salad of nano-fragments repeating and colliding in digital mahem. Unlistenably scratched. I will say that you haven't truly lived until you've heard Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares chopped up with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Captain Beefheart. Sarah suggests I should not have hired a raccoon to be my CD librarian. She makes a point.

Sarah also claims that the "worst thing ever" would be trying to separate hundreds of clothes hangers in a box while being attacked by raccoons. I think she may be on to something there. But I think I can top her scenario: What about THREE raccoons?! Better yet, two raccoons and a tiny Nusrat clinging to the hangers singing and biting? A ha! Seems so simple in hindsight, I know, but let me tell you it took me two days to come up with that. This kind of outside-the-box-of-hangers thinking, my friends, is why I'm the genius in this family.

Animal Phobias Page here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


...of something very old and nefarious. Then again, finding hidden symbology in streetmaps and other systems is often considered to be one of the symptoms of the onset of schizophrenia. Wow that Satan really covers his ass.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Have a click on the picture for a better look at Pete Jackson's incredible infrared photo of LA's Elysian Park. You must go see the massive prints in person, if you can, at the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art gallery which is located in Downtown LA, 107 West Fifth Street between Main and Spring.

More jawdroppingly great Pete Jackson panoramic works here.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Brothers Unite...

But for our differences and our geographic separations, I've always suspected that the Gazpachot brothers could do some great works in collaboration. Doubt it'll ever happen. The desire lacks and the incompatabilities suggest themselves too readily. A five-way stalemate of the imaginations.

("Weligama, Sri Lanka" by Steve McCurry)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Thanks Mama...

your Pablo

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Davids we love (and a Paul)...

When it comes to pioneering and charismatic broadcasting Brit biologists you've got two Davids to choose from:

David Attenborough (top), the man who invented the nature documentary and whose 1979 TV series "Life on Earth" still warbles through high school projectors around the globe.
David Bellamy (bottom) a world-class botanist, environmetnalist and (say it isn't so David) a global warming sceptic...

If it came to a smack down, I'd have to choose Attenborough and here's why... But first, let me say that Bellamy is just an incredible visionary, a gifted (if somewhat gummy-mouthed) speaker, and an indisputably great wooly bear of a human. Someone who laughs hard and loud and probably snores with gusto too. But Attenborough has the legacy, the momentum, the infinite miles clocked in around the globe. I hear he's tough to work for and a bit of a snob, but that's just heresay.

What really tips the scales for me is a completely personal bias. You see, I saw "Life on Earth" in a high school biology class with seven people in it. One of those people just happened to be Paul Giamatti. Yes, he was hilarious back then too. The long afternoon hours we all spent in a dark classroom hysterically laughing and tearing apart Attenborough's silly mannerisms and accents (while still learning a thing or two along the way) is something I am recalling this morning with great clarity and fondness. Our teacher, Ian Morris, was a great guy too. He knew that text books were no match for the power of Attenborough. Added bonus: Clips from "Life on Earth" appear in one of my favorite films of all time: "A Zed and Two Noughts"

So, let's be clear: I'd probably rather drink a bottle of whiskey in the Amazon canopy with David Bellamy. But it's Attenborough who wins the prize for getting his ivy all up in my brickwork. As for Mr. Giamatti, I hope we get the chance to reminisce over those halcyon adolescent days with a glass of Pinot Noir soon.

Bellamy :facts and in action
Attenborough: facts and in action
Giamatti: facts and in action

Friday, May 11, 2007

Animals who mock us...

I've pretty much determined that the vocally gifted bird who starts emoting right outside my window at 5AM is a mockingbird. If there was an avian equivalent of ADD, this guy's got it. The "song" consists of a never ending succession of 3 to 5 second blasts of electronic sounding sirens - car alarms to be precise. There are more "natural" chirps interspersed in there, but overall this bird is making heaps of industrial noise. Like channels switching on a TV. I can take a foul mouthed parrot, but a mockingbird who mocks Western Civilization (and LA car culture) while I'm trying to sleep is just too much mockery to bear.

("A Blue Faced Female Black-Naped Monarch Whispers the Secrets of the World to Me, But I Am Unimpressed" by Gracia Haby)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bring on the fungus...

What's the deal with all these squeaky clean cuddle-puff pop stars? Waaaay back in my day we sorta useta like our pop stars to stand for the right balance of erotic evil and cosmic virtue. Pop meant popular, not processed. Authenticity meant something, if only as a topic of endless debate. These artists and musicians and actors stood for big ideas, bad ideas, exotic energies, and the fearless illumination of the murky and shameful corners of our workaday human psyches. They had teeth. You had the sense that they were actually doing the things you really wanted to do, or hadn't dreamt of yet. These were accelerated lives burning magnesium strips that could rarely last more than thirty years on the planet. They played a necessary role in society like sorcerers in India. Indelible reminders that it's not all professionalism and Pottery Barn, this life. Instead, a superficial scan of the last decade or so reveals an endless parade of vapid pop dinks straight off the lillywhite shelves of Pottery Barn, or perhaps something slightly more "daring" like an Abercrombie & Fitch. It's enough to make you want to cry.

Granted I'm so far out of the loop it's embarrassing, but one young pop performer who seems, at first glance, at least not to have cleared her repertoire with Mommy and Daddy and the ghost of Jack Valente is Amy Winehouse. She's dark and defiant and addicted and proudly retro (as if to say, get me out of this dumb-ass present!). Sure, it could be a ruse. Her schtick seems a little too ripe to last, but at least there's a whif of fungus amongus once again. If it can happen, really happen, for the kids, I'd welcome the return of some idols worth idolizing.

UPDATE: Well, just to prove how out of it I am, I had no idea that this Ms. Winehouse was "The Next Big Thing!" Now that this song plays non-stop on the radio and her face appears all over the internets, I'm losing interest fast. Funny how that works. I guess I like my pop-stars unpopular, like the rest of us.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Got a light?

A man on a golf course flicks a cigarette butt away from his attention. A small burning bush catches the corner of his eye as he lines up his next shot. Realizing his mistake, he flings his body on the flames and burns himself severely. The dry foliage and the heavy winds do the rest. He is taken to a hospital where he is given morphine to kill the pain. He wakes up in the middle of the night, looks out his window and sees what you see here. Imagine what he felt. The horror of a thoughtless action magnified to an obscene extreme. The searing guilt.

Makes you wonder what the first minute of waking consciousness for George W. Bush is like.

("Griffith Park Wildfire at Night" by Sarah Bay Williams)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Two Charley Horses (and a Royal Goose)...

What are the odds that each member of a couple would awake in the night, just a few nights apart, with a massive muscle cramp in the right calf? Neither Sarah or I have had anything like a charley horse in years... And yet it happened... And now it feels like we've been woven into the plot of a teen ghost movie. My cramp was so intense that I accidentally kicked a sleeping cat ten feet into the gloaming.

The term Charley Horse (never Charlie Horse) historically refers to a painful blow to the inner thigh (aka "dead leg") often administered in childhood by a freckled classmate who was held back several grades. More recently, the term has also been used to describe painful leg cramps, which may occur in the thigh, arch of the foot, toes, calf muscle, or quadriceps. Such a charley horse can occur when the muscle in question is not being used, such as while lying in bed. The term may date back to American baseball slang of the 1880s, possibly from the pitcher Charley "Old Hoss" Radbourne who is said to have suffered from cramps.

Prince Charles may be an inappropriate bottom fondler (show me a Brit who isn't), but I say a royal who uses his own hands to till the land is entitled to squeeze a few exotic fruits.

Monday, May 07, 2007

What's exotic now?

Watching Dr. Doolittle (the old one, of course) in the middle of the night and thoroughly enjoying how much mileage the film gets from the mere suggestion of otherworldliness. When the world was a big place (i.e. before 1963) we longed to be spellbound by the exotic realms that were out there somewhere. For children there were pushmi-pullyews to ponder and for the caddish Hefner set the imagination was ignited by the possibility of Swedish Farm Hands and "Oriental" Pearl Divers swimming in the seven seas. And for mom there was Mr. Clean. Looks like the exotic and the erotic have always been kissing cousins.

But what's exotic now in the era of super-economies and no-stone-left-unturned globalization? Does the term have any relevance any more? Have the vivid cartoony contents of our repressed imaginations breached the levees of consciousness and manifest destiny?

("Timeless #9: Eternal Sunshine of the Song Dynasty" by Guan Zeju)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Nematodes we love...

Caenorhabditis elegans, seen above, is a free-living roundworm, about 1 mm in length, which lives in temperate soil. There is nothing lowly about it.

C. Elegans is perhaps the worlds most famous worm, or at least the worm to whom you owe a debt of gratitude, having been the focus of two of the last five Nobel Prizes in medicine. Because of all this attention, it has become the first multicellular organism to have its genome completely sequenced. C. elegans also made news when it was discovered that specimens had survived the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in February 2003.

C. Elegans - tough, noble, glamorous.

And now some worm poetry (read in the voice of Garrison Keillor):

The worm
artist out of soil,
by passage of himself
constructing castles
of metaphor!

- Denise Levertov

"Pleasure only starts once the worm has got into the fruit,
to become delightful happiness must be tainted with poison."

- Georges Bataille

Saturday, May 05, 2007

The great Saturday lunch tradition...

Here we are, about an hour ago, preparing for a simple but delicious Saturday afternoon outdoor lunch at Johannes's house where we are currently staying. The day is magnificent. The air is clean. There goes Sarah up to the kitchen to grab a cold bottle of crisp Alsatian wine to go with the steamed broccoli and sauteed bok choy, and turkey-chutney-onion-cilantro-dill-burgers cooked on a grill. Now stuffed and talked out, we are moving into siesta mode... Is this soft bourgeois bliss? I don't think so. Taking the time to enjoy one's friends and free time properly is probably the best thing one can do.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Face Reading...

Physiognomy, or the pseudo-science of face reading, is a dicey topic with a very bad track record. It is ripe for abuse in the wrong hands as a means of establishing hierarchies and drawing lines of population segmentation. It should be avoided in any form of institutional practice. It is a severley flawed form of judgment which generally leads to no good.

Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682) is considered to be the first modern scientist to explore the realm of face reading (the acient Greeks were all over the stuff a thousand years earlier). He wrote: "There is surely a Physiognomy, which those experienced and Master Mendicants observe....For there are mystically in our faces certain Characters which carry in them the motto of our Souls, wherein he that cannot read A.B.C. may read our natures...

He continues: "Since the Brow speaks often true, since Eyes and Noses have Tongues, and the countenance proclaims the heart and inclinations; let observation so far instruct thee in Physiognomical lines....we often observe that Men do most act those Creatures, whose constitution, parts, and complexion do most predominate in their mixtures. This is a corner-stone in Physiognomy...there are therefore Provincial Faces, National Lips and Noses, which testify not only the Natures of those Countries, but of those which have them elsewhere."

Historical abuses aside, there does appear to be something in our perception that enables us to estimate the character of another person from scanning their face. I would guess that this is directly tied to our ability to read emotions through facial expression. The specific features and planes of the human face are like bits of grammar contiunally re-adjusting themselves into new sentences. Our brain has an innate facility for understanding this language. Perhaps it is time for us to understand more deeply what this unspoken language means to us?

(A map of the facial zones used in modern day Chinese face reading)

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Sun's Microsystems...

"You may have known your neighbor yesterday for a thief, a drunkard, or a sensualist, and merely pitied or despised him, and despaired of the world; but the sun shines bright and warm this first spring morning, re-creating the world, and you ... feel the spring influence with the innocence of infancy, and all his faults are forgotten."

- Henry David Thoreau

("Anemone" by Flor Garduño)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A face like a car crash...

How do you read a face? What are the cues? What non-verbal story do we instantly compose in our consciousness? How does your story match-up with the face owner's own? How much of human interaction is based on the compromises we make (and don't make) when it comes to reading each other's faces?

("Beaten Soul" by Oscar Lozoya)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Clean Air is your birthright...

Clean air. That's my thing. That's the area of the environmental bandwagon I will turn into a ripe trendy cause with lapel ribbons, splashy benefits, and toothsome child celebrities on green bicycles! Because you know what? We deserve clean air! Clean air... Mmm. Delicious. How can I get some?

You may ask: Why do I, a fresh air loving Aquarian, live in the most polluted city in America? Well, why did Mother Teresa live in Calcutta? If she lived in Bar Harbor there wouldn't have been much for her to do now would there?

Now listen you goddamned blind greedy corporate industrial air spoilers: Just cut it the fuck out! You're ruining the AIR you stupid assholes! And for what? We want you to stop. Now! I can taste your chemicals in my mouth when I wake up in the morning. I can feel your cancer growing in my people. I can see your evil in the sky. Stop polluting the air. Figure it out.

And you, you jack-ass president. What are you thinking? Wipe that stupid smirk off your face and start cleaning up your act by cleaning up the air. We're not talking about saving an owl in Alaska you cold-blooded asphyxiator. We're talking about the most critical natural resource we've got. You're probably working on a plan to charge us for it. Jerk.

I make fun of Prius drivers only because they're such a visible new segment of the population. But really, I love them and thank them for their non-contribution to a deadly serious problem. What can you do to make clean air? Here are 50 ideas.

(Illustration by Ashoka)