Thursday, February 28, 2008

Kooky things doctors say...

"Well we're doing studies now to see what would happen if we put everyone on Lipitor or some statin. It's probably a good thing. Maybe it should be in the water like fluoride." Something to think about: The blasé overmedication of the entire planet and where it will take us. The human apparatus entombed in a carapace of science and industry.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Three things...

1) Obama and Hillary side by side in "debate" mode = couples therapy?

2) The terrifying thought of MRSA. Superbugs. Haven't we enough on our plates?

3) The red carpet is purple.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Ox Cars...

I was pleased to see that Daniel Day-Lewis won for his performance in There Will Be Blood, which is a great film, and should have taken best picture over the calculating offering those icy lizards the Cohen Brothers. Helen Mirren is still foxy and so is my Sarah who was a vision in white on the red carpet.

The name Jupiter is derived from the latin "Dieu-Pater" or God-Father. I bring this up for reasons that may, or may not, become clear in this lifetime.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Wild abandon...

Among the many skills one should have in life is the ability to know when to jump ship. Let me be clear - it's not something you should engage in with any regularity of course. You should be getting better at finding ships worth jumping into not off of. But, there may eventually come a time, to which this brave tigress can surely attest, when getting the hell out of a situation is absolutely the right thing to do.
It certainly beats having to walk the plank.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Blowing in the wind...

I think both Hillary and Barack are doing well in this Texas debate. As you know I support Obama, but something's bugging me. Minutiae really. Mosquito stuff. You see there's a fan offstage that keeps blowing the top sheet of his notepad up. It's very distracting and he's aware of it. Still, he refuses to rest his pen on the bottom of the page so it won't flap up like a little white flag. OK, so maybe he's got other things on his mind. But under the media microscope one can't help but notice how the candidates problem solve in the immediate realms of their own personal space. Is this insignificance significant?


Did you see the full lunar eclipse last night? Did you understand the bizarre geometry of the shadow the Earth cast? Me neither. What do you do with an eclipse at the end of the day?

Reminds me of something...

In 'Prisoners of the Sun' Herge explores the eclipse theme, albeit solar... Tintin and his companions have been taken prisoners by a tribe of Incas. Their crime was to accidentally enter the Temple of the Sun God. Tintin, Captain Haddock, and Professor Calculus are to be burned alive, their pyre lit by a magnifying glass focussing the rays of the sun. The only choice the Incas give them is the day and hour of their death.

Tintin finds a scrap of newspaper in his pocket, and notices a solar eclipse is predicted a few days hence. Choosing that day and time for their execution, Tintin is able to halt the ceremony, shouting to the Incas leader, "The Sun God will not hear your prayers! O magnificent Sun, if it is thy will that we should live give us now a sign!" And the sun, as if obeying Tintin's will, begins to disappear. The Incas leader is terrified and his people run in chaos. The leader frees them and accords them places of honor. Monica Vitti and Tin Tin end up in a life raft off the cost of Honduras with a case of Krug champagne. Captain Haddock swims after them, misses the helicopter rescue, and doggy-paddles all the way back to England.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Work ethic...

Get to the point where you're doing the work you can't help doing. Hopefully, that includes the concept of making the work you can't help making.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Elephant pecker...

OK, just gonna blurt this one out. You've had some fairly specific ideas your whole life. They mean a lot to you. They are the pillars that hold your worldview aloft. Then, inevitably, this happens: Someone great comes along and expresses your ideas, publicly, with an eloquence and an enthusiasm that you must admit, eclipses your own version of those ideas. Then you endure the added insult of seeing that this person has made a great life for themselves out of willfully exploring those "sacred" ideas. On top of it, this person seems to be cracklingly alive and having fun and going places and you, suddenly, feel very stuck in a shitty rat dumpster filled with half-baked idea-batter which you use as a cookie dough salve to wrap around your weary, non-flourishing soul.

What's really the problem here is not your ideas bub, they're great. Perhaps it's that your apparatus is all messed up and you've allowed it to perpetuate stale psychodramas that ring through your skull and your ribcage like a gong falling down a spiral staircase? Hey, just a thought chief. And another thing: Don't envy, just emit.

("Nila" by the goddamned great Walton Ford)

Monday, February 18, 2008


OK so I'm no pioneer here, but I just thought I should let my support be known: He's the one. A statesman not a politician. Why vote bureaucratic competence when you are being offered a real shot at global progress? His exemplary voting record and forward-looking policies aside, a man who, in his own words, "hasn't had the hope and the dreams of the American people boiled out of him" by insider politicians gets my vote. Those are the broad strokes, I encourage you to investigate the details if you haven't already.

(Obama Obey poster by Shepard Fairey)

Life charges at you...

In paradise magnificent horrors lurk. A slight rustle in the green grass could be your worst nightmare. Good thing you have your mahout's protecting twig ("angkhus") on you.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Cracked lenses...

Get to know your blogger... Can it be that modern science can do such wonderful things, but can't easily get rid of the distracting floaters and occasional flashing lights that linger around my eyeballs? How can a man enjoy the paper on a Sunday morning in the midst of all this shrinking vitreous? Let me explain...

"Floaters" occur when the vitreous, a gel-like substance that fills about 80 percent of the eye and helps it maintain a round shape, slowly shrinks. As the vitreous shrinks, it becomes somewhat stringy, and the strands can cast tiny shadows on the retina. There is no simple cure, only the fantastically risky vitrectomy (aka: the horrific surgery Spalding Gray avoided in Gray's Anatomy). A vitrectomy removes the vitreous gel, along with its floating debris, from the eye. The vitreous is replaced with a salt solution. The operation can cause retinal detachment, retinal tears, and cataracts. Most eye surgeons are reluctant to recommend this surgery unless the floaters seriously interfere with vision.

But wait there's more. People who experience floaters are also susceptible to ocular migraines or simply "flashing lights." We lucky folk experience these as blinding flashes of light that appear as jagged lines or "heat waves" in both eyes, often lasting up to 20 minutes. These migraines are usually caused by a spasm of blood vessels in the brain. If a headache follows the flashes, it is called a migraine headache. However, jagged lines or "heat waves" can occur without a headache. In this case, the light flashes are called an ophthalmic migraine, or a migraine without a headache.

There you have it. A man of many visions.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The physics of memory...

It happens all the time... the slightest momentary twinge of pain, or jiggle of the innards, or a deep muscle spasm in the body triggers a seemingly random flash memory intact in vivid perfection. Is that where you were the last time that particular muscle twisted or innard twitched? Or, does the spaghetti of the neural net trigger memories according to its own set of rules? How much importance should we give this dredged up recollection? Questions, questions, questions!

(Representation of the 10,000 neurons and 30 million connections in a single neocortical column by Blue Brain Project.)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Spaceport America...

Congratulations to the thousands of readers who correctly identified the location of yesterday's image. For those of you who didn't get it, well, I'm guessing that you won't be traveling into space anytime soon. Yes, the photo shows the ground on which Spaceport America is currently being built near the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. Looks pretty vacant now, but trust me, they'll be pumping lattes out to starry-eyed millionaires soon enough. Virgin Galactic expects to launch its first civilian-manned space flight from here in 2009 (at around $200K for six minutes of weightlessness). Other commercial space "adventure" agencies are soon to follow. The facility is being designed by the great Norman Foster who was brought in after a disastrous competition whose winning entry didn't look nearly Star Trek-y enough for the backers and die-hard fans of this project.

Why does the concept of space travel ignite so many nerdy infantile fantasies? Don't know, but the idea of a space city in the middle of nowhere sure seems like a wicked cool enterprise to me.

(Rendering of SPA by Foster + Partners , 2007)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

There will be strip malls...

There Will Be Blood is the story of American Karma. A nation will reap what it sows. It is an epic cinematic regression back to the core ingredients that brought us where we are today: ambition, industry, competition, lies, greed, addiction, religion, repression, family, and even the mind-altering, rhythmic pulses of rock and roll music. It's a great film; I recommend seeing it twice.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Guy Gone Wild...

Aesthetic explorer, Christopher McCandless, would have been 40 today. Happy Birthday and RIP Supertramp.

"So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greather joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun."

- Alex Supertramp

Monday, February 11, 2008

Direct vs. indirect creations...

Art whose appeal is isolated in the details of its composition as opposed to art that takes on meaning, aesthetic and otherwise, in contrast and relation to the reality surrounding it. Easier to love and covet the first, but the impact of the second, if the timing is right, can reverberate through a culture and spark changes in the collective unconscious. Sometimes the distinction is hard to make.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Have you no sense of dignity?

NEVER, ever, eat potato chips or any greasy food in your car. You will always, always regret it.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Temples of Infrastructure...

First of all The Department of Water and Power can't be accused of hiding anything in its name. Water and Power. The very stuff of life. The Department of Water and Power houses our secular, urban god. Around Los Angeles the DWP has some magnificent (and strangely un-photographed) distribution stations representing all the greatest hits of 20th Century architecture. What's inside these external shell-shrines is not for public consumption. The magic behind the utility. There's a peculiar one on the curvy NW corner of Yucca and Argyle. Very Planet of the Apes. Once, their front gate was wide open so I walked in through the iron fencing beyond the foreboding low black walls. Inside was the most amazing cacophony of giant circuit breakers, transformers, distributors, switchboards, and oversized whirling gizmos piled up around a cramped cement lot. A scene straight out of a silent Frankenstein movie. Not a human in sight. Just a low penetrating buzz that made me sleepy and a distinctly megawatty sensation in the air.

(DWP Headquarters in Downtown LA, 1964 Albert C. Martin + Associates)

Friday, February 08, 2008

Melodious Thunk...

Thelonious Sphere Monk, the possessor of a most oblique genius, attacked his piano like a panther attacks a tit mouse. Scattered, sputtering, spinning, spontaneous magnificence. If you haven't seen, Straight No Chaser, the excellent documentary on his music, mind, and disputed madness, you're truly missing out. His rendition of "Just a Gigolo" (here, 4:44 in) is something that will rearrange your molecules permanently. You don't have to like jazz. A passing interest in the stuff that makes remarkable humans tick will get you in the door. Don't miss Monk lying in bed in a Copenhagen hotel, trying to get his familiar down home cooking from room service. "Say, man; you got any chicken livers?" Incidentally, Monk's middle name, "Sphere," derives from his maternal grandmother, Sphere Batts. Not a hipster's cool affectation, "Sphere" was part of Monk's given name. Monk exceeded affectation. One thing though, he's not the greatest speaker in the world. Or maybe it's just a language filtered through the swampy quagmire of a raw musical brain.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

All the slants that fit our agendas...

Is it me or does it seem totally inappropriate for a major newspaper of record to endorse a candidate for president? Since when is The NY Times in the business of broadcasting its biases as news? I mean, of course the paper is biased through and through, you can always catch a whiff an agenda wafting up from the editorial and the advertising. But endorsing a presidential candidate is just plain rude. I mean what if McCain or Obama win this? They will have to spend their political careers in that awkward lingering tone of "non-endorsement." Once I told my friend that I thought his new girlfriend was dumb and annoying. They got married. We don't speak anymore. Catch my drift?

(Not the NY Times Editorial Board, but could be)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Viva Photoshop!

Planet Earth has lived for twenty years with Photoshop. As far as we know it hasn't destroyed the truth or rendered photography moot as was originally predicted. It has enabled us commoners to lay our sleek and shiny cinematic visions over our drab snapshots. Double chins and birthmarks be gone. Thomas Knoll's name is still at the top of the long list of names that pop up when you start the program. And look, the icons were the same in 88. Viva Photoshop!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Zapped by Mercury...

This mercury retrograde stuff is potent. I've been having some horrific and totally inexplicable equipment failures, including a dreaded "CHA Error" on my CF memory card after a full day's shoot yesterday. That means "those pictures you took? they're all gone, buster," to you non Nikon users. I'm told there are strange energy drains happening in the tri-state area, including the much discussed Bermuda Triangle that surrounds the Empire State Building. OK, I'd better stop writing this before something happens.

Monday, February 04, 2008

"In the valley of sorrow, spread your wings"

"All people are equal" is a necessary fiction but mathematically unlikely. The nature of our species is rooted in power struggles of ambitions, one upmanship, and self-preservation. Somehow all of this emphasis on uniqueness can make us think we're pretty special. If we can't distinguish ourselves in reality, in a moment, at least we can give ourselves a boost in our own minds. Douse our brains with a sparkling endorphin cocktail. How many so-called geniuses are rendered lost and dysfunctional because they can not find a context that supports their abilities? What a long fall when one's own self-imposed exceptionality encounters an unbending ordinariness that can not be mastered. But what magnificent a lift-off when we learn how to use our own gifts to defy the gravity of the mundane!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Oval office try-outs...

All of these debates and pep rallies are hyper-distractions. The selection process is so speculative - we are left to choose our candidate based on smiles, one-liners, and murky paper trails. What does any of this have to do with the actual dang job of presidenting? I have a solution to the superficial horse race frenzy.

Oval Office Try-outs...

When you hire an actor you put them on a stage and make them read lines. When an athlete competes for a position in a big race, they must perform try-outs. They don't talk about what a dramatic face they'll pull or how high they can pole vault. No - People must be seen in action. So why can't we create a simulated week of presidential reality with all the replete decision making, opinion galvanizing, and crisis management that the job requires. Why don't we really put these candidates to the test? We would build perfect replicas of the Oval Office, Air Force One, foreign summits, etc., and unleash Obama, McCain, Clinton, Romney, Huckabee into these crackling environments. Each would be left to their own devices to fulfill obligations and navigate unforeseen challenges to the best of their abilities. Computer simulated "cabinets" would provide information and wildly divergent strategic advices. And so on. It would be the ultimate reality TV series with a genuine purpose for our great nation.

Of course, the presidency is an American emblem shrouded in secrecy and symbolism. The actual "on the job" profile isn't really available or of much interest to us. We want leaders who appear strong, capable, and in touch. We don't want to know how sausage is made.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

They tumble blindly...

Apparently NASA is beaming the Beatles "Across the Universe" to the North Star to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the space organization and the fortieth anniversary of the song. It's a 431 light year journey to Polaris, so we might not get their reaction for a while. No word on whether Polaris people will be charged with piracy for illegal downloads.