Friday, November 30, 2007
What do you see?
Some say a white witch, others two roosters kissing and some, very few, see the ground beneath their feet. Up and down are manmade inventions. Like right and left. Speaking of which, this is very interesting if you've ever driven in a country where they use the wrong side, not the right side.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Houses of the Holy...
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
The Change Game...
People make difficult changes. And that's great. They stop smoking, drinking, eating badly, they switch careers, move homes, recover from traumas, take on new outlooks, new religions. Etc. Thing is, people tend to become obsessive when they change. In other words, the change they make tends to become the entire narrative of their life. Everything they do and say is beholden to the new order. It is as if in changing they also changed universes - to a much smaller one made up only of molecules that pertain to the desired change. It's a trick of consciousness you see, in order for the change to take hold we believe that we must embrace a one-track existence. But the trick is on us, for as we hypnotize ourselves into believing we are new and changed, the world outside our blinders remains the same. So I'm wondering, can change happen without all this virtual vivisectioning? Can we change in this world without reprogramming ourselves into another reduced one?
("Mr. Hyde Exposed" by Ed Kwong)
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Foggy Contrast with Torque...
Europe is not America. As the US experienced its wild adolescence in the 1960's, beautiful, tired old Europe, envious of the colorful hubbub, finally willing to fess up to its self-strangulation by tradition, ended up with a strange hybrid rebellion of its own. The girls were on motorcycles and the boys were doing Brando impressions in Yves Saint Laurent finery. The students went ape shit. There was a palpable reclamation of the individual, the ego, in the face of crumbling post-war societal doldrums. Strangely, all that colorful psychedelia and hot sex seemed better suited to the gray fogs, peeling palaces, and tree-lined country roads of Europe than the already dopey, sunny Disneyland of California.
Contrary to popular belief, Europe is really the more violent place. Tightly packed, seething with unspoken class struggles, the desperation of preserving an elusive dominance, thriving bands of hooligans and sadists drunk on philosophy and beer and bullfighting. Europeans have never been as dewey-eyed and dualistic about the morality of aggression as we have. Europeans might be repressors, but they are not "erasors" in the Stepford Wives sense. Their culture is too rich, too steeped in blood, to sleep walk through with a smile. America is big enough to push violence into dark corners, hungry enough to exhaust our aggressions in our pursuit of material enlightenment, and morally simplistic enough to divvy all behavior into binary code: Good For Business and Evil.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Good to take a break. Had a truly great Thanksgiving up North - air clean, people smart and beautiful, creative juices flowing, belly permanently stretched... We slept in a "Playgarden" which is a Waldorf schoolhouse for tots. Tiny chairs, lots of wood and wool critters, and powerful good energies swirling around in there. Great!
Among the weekend's serious activities was a chance to count the seeds in a pomegranate. According to some religious texts, all pomegranates have the same number of seeds - 613. Finally, a religious tenet that could be verified...
613 corresponds to the number of Mitzvot, or commandment-blessings, found in the Torah. Also, it is said, to the number of nerves in the human body. Some of the Jewish faith believe that to eat a pomegranate is to eat human flesh... others choose to decorate the Torah coverings with one of these sacred fruits.
In Greek mythology the pomegranate is the symbol of Winter. Or Love. Or Blood. Or Death. Moving on... Persephone, the smoking hot daughter of Demeter and Zeus, was lured into the underworld by Hades. Zeus was like, "Give her back, Devil-Man!" and Hades grudgingly agreed. But before she went back he gave her a pomegranate. When she ate it, it bound her to underworld forever and she had to stay there one-third of the year. The other months she stayed with Demeter. When Persephone was in Hades, Demeter refused to let anything grow and winter began.
Anyhow, back to the experiment... Two grenade sized pomegranates (yes Virginia, the French word for pomegranate grenade was used in English to name a small round bomb-like device that was tossed into enemy trenches where it exploded sending its seeds of death, bits of schrapnel, into enemy bodies) were selected and carefully hand peeled and dismantled, seed by seed. Team A (two bright young girls) were quick to find 532 seeds, or arils, in their fruit. Team B (yours truly) eventually came up with a healthy 552 seeds. 613 was no where in sight (unless you tally the number of minutes it took me to count those damn seeds.)
Why is it that religions are always looking for sacred patterns and glitzy numerological show stoppers? Is it because we respond to these notions? Is it because we want to believe? I mean who has the time to count pomegranate seeds? The sciences are no better when it comes to spouting magic numbers. Who knows if there are really 613 nerves in a human body? Are you going to count them?
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
We are becoming like cats, slyly parasitic, enjoying an indifferent domesticity. Nice and snug in “the social” our historic passions have withdrawn into the glow of an artificial cosiness, and our half-closed eyes now seek little other than the peaceful parade of television pictures.
- Jean Baudrillard
(more Karl Bang here)
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
When superheroes do normal things...
I always go after the best. I want to be around the smartest, liveliest, most visionary individuals with mind boggling superpowers that can show us all the way forward. I set the bar high. Which is why I'm so exasperated when reality strikes - when dull-eyed humanity and the molasses strands of entropy bog progress down. Why is it that when I need a superhero the most, they're inevitably off in the mountains picking their feet? Time to cultivate my own superpowers I guess... sheesh, must I do everything around here?!
Monday, November 19, 2007
A Year Along The Franklin Corridor...
As 2007 rounds into the final holiday stretch, it would be unfair of me to keep the journey of this remarkable year to myself. Sarah and I have moved no less than six times (by my count this morning, could be more) in and out of a fantastic succession of homes either on or near Franklin Street in Hollywood. This is not because we love packing and unpacking, but because we are riding the winds of human kindness and taking a sailor's tack to get to the ocean where, with luck, we will find a suitable mooring and a less migratory nature. That said, it's been great. It really makes you feel alive: NOT having the dull ongoing comfort of a roof over your head, not knowing what your address will be next week, waking up and not remembering where you are or which way to point the car when your are returning to your domicile du jour after a day's work. Does that sound like something you would dread? Of course it does, we build our lives around the stability of our dwellings. But: when you remove the structural constant from the equation interesting things begin to happen. "Home" becomes something internalized and conceptual - a malleable (and weatherproof) spirit instead of a solid architectural manifestation. Rather than living from a fixed point of view, your worldview is constantly shifting, adapting to the new terrain, new set dressing, new shower heads, new cats. And there have been lots of cats - Clo Clo, Alfa, Jethro, Marvin, and a dog - Jake. I feel a strong kinship to these creatures, domesticated but nomads at heart, still in touch with the call of the wild. Don't get me wrong, I'm not glamorizing homelessness or making light of it. We're lucky to have such great friends and we're learning a lot from this adventure. "Keep on moving" has always been a personal mantra and in 2007 the metaphor became literal.
(great things happening at I Said If)
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Ate legs, 7 Seas...
Not only did I want octopus for my lunch, but I wanted octopus for my life. I was absolutely convinced that bringing such a strange creature into my system would bring interesting new thoughts and awarenesses to me. You are what you eat after all. So there I sat at "El 7 Mares" on Sunset having ordered the Pulpo Cocktail. The small window opened at the designated pick-up point and there was my cocktail in a large plastic cup on a plastic tray surrounded by a pile of Saltine cracker packets. I had eaten this before with great enthusiasm - it's a dazzlingly fresh mix of tomatoes, onions, avocados, cilantro blended into a cool chunky drink perfect for a warm November afternoon. At the bottom of the cup lies a handful of purple-pink pulpo parts, each about the size of a pinky tip. They're chewy like calamari and the sucker bumps add a wonderful texture.
Then the world changed on me... My warm and jolly hunger was eclipsed by a profound state of physical and philosophical nausea the likes of which would make Jean Paul Sartre's wonky eye pop right from it's socket (and into my pulpo cocktail). Suddenly, the thought of all those baby octopi, farmed and chopped up and kept in a Tupperware container on a shelf inside the kitchen of this electric orange cement box of a restaurant was brining me down faster than a bad oyster in a month with no "r." Beyond the pangs of conscience, which in truth were fleeting, there were the octopus pieces themselves, dredged from the depths of the cup with a white plastic spoon. No, I do not want octopus in me today I announced to myself looking into the cup. And then I started eating.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Not too long ago photography was a medium geared to the mechanics of the eye. Today, in the world of photoshop, HDR tone mapping, and panoramic imaging, photography has become a medium that speaks directly to the brain. Traditionalists bemoan this kind of talk, but I champion the move into this new territory. OK, I fear the schlocky onslaught of bad experimentation and album cover art that this new photo technology invites, but if I may, I think the creation of technology that speaks directly to our consciousness (rather than our senses) is a key part of our mission here on Earth.
Anyone who's taken a picture knows that the above image is impossible to take. Either the windows and the light cascading in would be way overexposed or the columns and other areas in shadow would be completely dark. Lights might help but then you would have dueling light temperatures and a messy image. The above "photo" is in fact a computer manufactured composite that blends light conditions from anywhere from three to eight separate photographs. Even though our eyes would not process light this way, our brains immediately get it.
Photography is evolving to connect with our cinematic imaginations. We are coming closer to understanding our place in the world through the tropes of storytelling and visual narrative. Our enhanced visions of the world around us carry more psychic weight than those that reflect "reality" unadorned.
To simplify: One day we will catch a reflection of ourselves in this multi-techno-mirror we are constructing around ourselves and the eureka bell will sound - "Wow!" we will say, "Are we ugly and screwed up or what?!" And right there in that moment, for many, all the wasted energy, the Narcissism and self importance, will be on full nauseating display, and in that moment there will be a chance for something new and better to emerge for our species. Will we take that chance? I think so, though I'm willing to hear the naysayers out.
More on HDR here and here.
("photo" by Uwe Steinmueller)
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
The always truthful Wikipedia says that George Washington was 7 foot 8 inches tall (6' 20") and "weighed a fucking ton." See for yourself... No wonder he kissed the girls and made them cry.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Underneath it all...
Which of the arts or sciences is best suited to representing the entire feeling of life as it unfolds and evolves moment to moment? Who are the people that are successfully doing this? I'm less interested in the cold facts than I am in the musical notes, the patterns, the orchestration across space and time. So many brilliant people, so willing to be separated from the ocean, exiled in a tide pool, where they can lord over stagnant conditions.
Nature and consciousness do not want to be slowed down or caged, and our doing so can only ever give us a fraction of the information and none of the pulse. For now, I'm sticking with the arts. Music, film, painting, and photography. I'm curious about virtual reality, but so far it's manifestations are a little underwhelming. Who wants to work and pay taxes in a second life?
Monday, November 12, 2007
City of Winners Lost...
One night in Las Vegas is all anyone needs... Especially for those who think they don't need it.
Forget gambling... It's a 10+ on the Richter Scale of Socio-voyeuristic experiences. Everywhere you walk you see the core values and fantastic mechanations of the modern marketplace in full rotten bloom. From 99 cent bottomless Margaritas to the hilariously inflated delineations of self worth - Are you a Diamond member? Platinum? Ultra? Elite? or a cool Sinatra-esque Classic? You are the King baby, as long as you are a walking ATM as well.
The city is in on the greedy act too - the very handy and well-constructed monorail should be free, thus allowing drunken idiots an alternative to getting behind the wheels of their rented Hummers and shouting at girls walking on the Strip. Instead, you pay a $5 minimum boarding fee to go 1/4 mile. No one uses it. Over and over you see what humans are reduced to in a marketers paradise: Drooling, obese lever-pullers or hooting meatheads who think they've died and gone to heaven.
Speaking of heaven, the religious underpinnings of the city are clearly discernible through all the noise. Las Vegas plays its "evil" card all the way down to it's Catholic-mobster guilt-ridden origins - You are BAD, so you might as well be REAL BAD! And while no amount of debauchery can shock, Sarah and I were taken aback by three massive new towers which, at night, reveal huge illuminated crucifixes emblazoned across their exterior (a la Christ and the two malefactors at Mount Golgotha). We found out that they are luxury condos attached to the MGM Grand casino complex.
We then discovered that the main building of the MGM Grand, viewed from above, is very definitely constructed in the shape of a cross. MGM stands for Metro Goldwyn Mayer, which sounds like a bunch of Jewish guys to me - so who's browbeating architects into errecting Christian iconography in Sin City? Roads point to Kirk Kerkorian, the majority owner of the MGM Mirage gaming company. My guess is that it's not his religious devotion, but just another gamble - throngs of weary Christians will opt for housing that radiates a subliminal message that Jesus is beside them as they gamble and that later, weeping in their rooms over Gideon's bible, He will always be available to absolve their sins. Just dial the front desk for rates and terms.
(photo by Paul Gachot)
Saturday, November 10, 2007
So tomorrow's 11/11 which can only mean it's time for our annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas. Wish us luck...
The world is full of boggling coincidences, and here's one that's looks like one but is not. It's really just a case of deep compatibility at the cellular level. The above photo shows the basic trip provisions that Sarah and I bought, separately and totally unaware of each other's purchases. We were probably in the same store at the same time just missing each other in different aisles... Point is, when two people operate at this level of in-synchritude, invoking the mirror-loving 11-11 gods on 11/11 at 11:11 AM seems like the logical choice.
Friday, November 09, 2007
Cities to visit or live in...
Nice world map here...
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Putting aerialism into perspective...
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Is your brain a lefty or a righty?
Which way is she spinning?
Learn more here...
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Cranky tiger, feet draggin...
Friday, November 02, 2007
Creative types could use a shark fin to strap on their backs every now and then, if only to keep the rest of the world at a distance, away from the bizarre and often precarious systems they use to navigate the seven seas. Yes, they would run the risk of getting a harpoon lodged in their side, but they would also experience the strange sensation of being feared at the primal level, which is good since artists typically opt for fearlessness instead.