Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Smiles of the ignited...

If you come to California expecting to smile and surf and be seen, go home. What really works here is packing some inner orthodontia - TEETH! Back in the Big Apple, teeth were once the rage, but now they've all been filed down to harmless nubs. Gums for suckling at the pricey teet of hypnotic milk. Here in the wild west, there's still much to do, many empty spaces to fill, many visions to muster. But don't let that sunshine and natural beauty and casual sheen lull you into a stupor. Grow some teeth, some resistance, create a tension upon which your tightrope act will flourish.

("Grr" by Jill Greenberg)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mormonism explained at last!

You can't make this stuff up folks...

(Thanks Zach)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Spinning wheels of memory...

I suspect that the dreaming mind is not as willfully sharp as the waking mind when it comes to recalling details. Last night I was trying to remember someone's last name for what felt like the entire night's sleep. A recurring loop of "Smith? No, that's not it, Jones? No, that's not it, White? ?o, that's not it..." Upon waking the name came in a flash. But then the larger question: Why was I trying to remember this seemingly random name? Who knows, that selection I concede to the needs of the dreaming mind. At times this crazy brain-bound devil has no troubles letting the needle skip, the train wheels chug, the whirlpools whirl, without a care for the rest of the system's need for rest and progress. Then again, it's only fair to note that the right dream at the right time can release one from years of psychic blockage in the most incredibly cinematic ways.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Long may you Grok...

To grok is to share the same reality or line of thinking with another physical or conceptual entity. First used by Robert Heinlein in Stranger in a Strange Land he explains: “Grok means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed. To merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in group experience. It means almost everything that we mean by religion, philosophy, and science—and it means as little to us (because of our Earthly assumptions) as color means to a blind man.”

The Oxford English Dictionary defines grok as "to understand intuitively or by empathy; to establish rapport with" and "to empathize or communicate sympathetically (with); also, to experience enjoyment."

Heinlein coined the term as a Martian word that literally means "to drink", and had a much more profound figurative meaning that is hard for Earthlings to understand because of our assumption of a singular reality.

(much lifted from WikiP)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Invoking Richard Burton...

"I was fit for nothing but to be shot at for six pence a day," recalled Sir Richard Burton of being thrown out of Trinity College and entering the East India Company of the British Army. Burton was considered peculiar by some of his fellow soldiers who accused him of "going native" and called him "the White Nigger". Indeed he had many peculiar habits that set him apart from other soldiers. While in the army, he kept a large menagerie of tame monkeys in the hopes of learning their language. He also earned the name "Ruffian Dick" for his "demonic ferocity as a fighter and because he had fought in single combat more enemies than perhaps any other man of his time."

(The Sensorium - Burton's monkeys assembled a table, by Walton Ford)

Friday, April 25, 2008

it could happen...

A fox with golden maggots spied a girl on a high dive platform as a washed-up toothy fish bit into an anchor.

(Wolf-fish, Anarhichas Lupus from The Natural History of British Fishes,
1802 by E. Donovan F.L.S - more here)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

But Baby likes to drive...

"Great ideas often receive violent opposition from mediocre minds."

- Albert Einstein

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Assburgers syndrome...

Two days after an unscheduled and thoroughly unabashed bowling alley junk food feast, the chemical corn-dog dreams of madness continue. Food is a hallucinogen to me now - any deviation from the relatively clean farmers' market/Trader Joe's regimen and I'm thrown into Wonderland. As interesting as the dreams are, junk food makes you feel physically awful. Like there's plastic in your veins. All that said, I feel as though I'm in a period of acute awareness - an ability to see things that have been hiding right in front of me for ages. Could it be the mozzarella sticks?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Sensory triggers...

I see a tiger, or I see a picture of a tiger – each experience draws the shape of my consciousness towards a feast of primal sensations: power, fear, instinct, strength, beauty, agility, danger. Toss in vivid colors, exotic shapes and patterns, a vague notion of "who made this?" In short, a thrill. This timid tiger triggers nicely.

In many ways the rendered tiger (photographed, painted, sculpted, etc.) is more interesting than the actual tiger because the artist’s interpretation adds a whole extra layer of information and aesthetic narrative, not to mention it has none of the pesky consequences of "reality." What are the images, the smells, the sounds, the ideas, that send arcs of electricity through your neural netting? Good to know.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Think for yourself...

People yammer about the continual evolution of language with all the new slang and tech talk, but actually language is not updating nearly fast enough. The way we use English is thousands of years behind our knowledge base. As Buckminster Fuller said, "Why are we still using the terms 'up and down?'" These terms are meaningless unless you believe that the world is flat and the Earth is the center of the universe. Bucky F. did like the couplet "in/out" very much - as in - we tune a radio station in or out - he thought it was important to understand that there can be a multitude of options present, and that our power is the power of selection.

(Nice Fuller t-Shirt and bio here.)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

What's with all the animals Gazpachot?

Somehow in their form and habits and imperviousness to civilization, animals effortlessly bypass our rational outlook to elicit raw emotional responses (primal fear, the unconditional love of a pet, the knowing eye of a whale, etc.). To these I am drawn.

Animals, our alien cousins with whom we share the resources of this planet, because of their otherness, trigger wild flights of fantasy in us - from the Serpent of Eden to Chinese Dragons to Bald Eagles to Bugs Bunny to King Kong, etc. As symbolic objects they draw our attention out of the all-knowing, all-confining cauldron of the human perspective, right into the fire of the mystery of life itself.

Here's a freely associated itemization of the underpinnings of my animal obsessions. Keep in mind it's not the animals themselves, it's what they, by nature of their mute, ambiguous existence, trigger in us - the animal imagined - that keeps me coming back to the watering hole.

Animals and the imagination
Animals and creativity
The nature of Nature
Eccentric Zoologists and Naturalists
Taxidermied Dens and Libraries
Exotic Travel
Film and Photography
Walton Ford
Food Chain
Perceptions of evil
Existing outside “the system”/Anti-civilization
The instinctive fear and searing impressions that large dangerous animals impart.
Dreams and nightmares
Interspecies communication
The Chase
Kill or be killed
Natural violence
Natural beauty
The way animals move
Alternate consciousness
Beautifully uncivilized
Other life
Non-human narrative
Think for yourself
Book of Beasts
Meaning vs illogic
Language vs. Body language
Science vs. Nature
Man vs. Nature

and so on...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Every day the same, unless...

Humanity is expected to fail – governments exist to nurture and protect the weak and downtrodden masses. Systems reward the instinct to leave others behind. But what if we were to collectively succeed? What if for a generation we were to mine our greatest global resource - ourselves? What would worldwide success look like? What problems could we solve if we stopped retelling the same story? Which plan could empower and inspire each individual to willfully participate in something universally uplifting?

"Dare to be naive," said Buckminster Fuller. OK, I dare us...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pachyderm Paints...

Absolutely Incredible... watch the whole thing. I mean how do you even begin to process something like this!? No, it's not a hoax, it's a real place where you can go and watch aesthetic elephants make art. After seeing this, Sarah and I are contemplating getting into the giant beret business. We'd like to keep these elephants as artsy as possible... lord knows what else they might get up to!

(Thanks Walton)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Feeling 30 again...

Now that the government has our tax money, what will they do with it? How much of each dollar you sent in will be used to kill someone? How much will be used to save someone? We don't really know, do we...

These ideas were very much in the theater last night at the Academy screenings of two of John Huston's great WWII documentaries. San Pietro (1944) wasproduced and directed by Huston for the U.S. War Department. Originally deemed too violent and realistic to be shown to the public, it was not screened until 1945, when General George Marshall’s endorsement led to the removal of its “classified” status. The War Department also banned Let There Be Light (1946), a naked portrait of the mental problems suffered by returning veterans and their doctors, who often used "magical" psychological treatments to put out their psychic fires. The ban was finally lifted decades later, in December 1980, and the film was released in 1981.

Both films will play on the Documentary Channel soon, so keep your eyes peeled. Try to see both, but I would especially recommend Let there Be Light, for its miraculous vision of psychology, and placebo affect of the camera.

But back to taxes: I wanted to reiterate my radical tax plan for the country. Obama, stop talking and listen: Imagine the direct involvement our citizens in government - no more handing over our money to have it spent on death machines and pet pork. If every citizen could decide where 30% of their tax dollars went, imagine the sense of non-irony we might feel when using the word democracy!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Talent is not a potato...

This just in:

"Talent is not a potato. Real talent is the ability to be both a carrot and a cabbage."

- Nakajo San, art director Hanatsubaki Magazine

Monday, April 14, 2008

Caveat emptor...

Capitalism and democracy were once complimentary, a long, long time ago, when markets were about producing goods that met human needs. Today, "needs" must be created: Producers and marketers of goods and services have to convince those with money to buy them. In a never-ending effort to make consumption the centerpiece of every American's existence, marketers have succeeded in infantilizing adults. We're increasingly governed by impulse.

(from a Washington Post review of Benjamin Barber's Consumed)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

No I won't back-up...

Common wisdom tells us to make sure we keep our digital data in double or triplicate form lest one system fail. But the real truth is - let it happen. You might think that there is nothing more devastating than watching that last drop of post-shower water fall in slow motion from the tip of your nose down into the tiny cracks of your laptop keyboard and hearing that distinct sizzle of your motherboard frying. What, you forgot to back-up your data? Good for you! There are few things as liberating in life as losing years' worth of work in an instant. It used to take fires and earthquakes and other awful acts of gods to upend us so. Today we can experience that invaluable release, that severing of our identity from our precious backlog, for the low low price of a leaky coffee cup.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Melonistic cats...

Big Cats. You know them, you love them. Lions. Tigers. Leopards. Jaguars. And panthers? Nope. No such thing. Just black leopards (Europe, Africa, Asia) and black jaguars (South America).

In the early 1980s, the Glasgow Zoo acquired a 10 year-old black leopard, nicknamed the Cobweb Panther, from the Dublin Zoo. This leopard had a uniformly black coat profusely sprinkled with white hairs as though draped with spider webs. The condition appeared to be vitiligo; as she aged, the white became more extensive. Since then, other "Cobweb Panthers" have been reported and photographed in zoos.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Moving away from the pulsebeat...

"Give me an underground laboratory, half a dozen atom-smashers, and a girl in a diaphanous veil waiting to be turned into a chimpanzee, and I care not who writes the nation's laws." - S.J. Perelman

('Viewpoint" by Mira Ruido)

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Mokita is everywhere. Good word to have in your holster. It is a Papua New Guinean word in the Kivila language meaning "that which is known but left unsaid."

(photo by Ellen von Unwerth)

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Blank checks and balancing acts...

What is the incentive for any of the quarreling factions in Iraq to unite when all sides are being paid off and protected by us? Oh, and a follow-up question: Why are we there again? Ryan Crocker seems to have a one word answer for everything: "Um..."

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Defining freedom across the board...

Unlike the U.S., in Mexico it is not a criminal offense to try to escape from jail.
Their philosophy of law holds that it is human nature to want to escape from incarceration. Mexican escapees who do not break any other laws or use violence are not charged and no extra time is added to their sentence; however, guards are allowed to shoot prisoners attempting to escape. Seems fair to me. Why should any living thing be punished for seeking freedom? Then again, why make it easy?

Monday, April 07, 2008

WaMu is so evil...

I'm so angry, my head actually exploded. As I write this there is only a steaming smoke stack where my head used to be.

I received a high-limit credit card in the mail from Washington Mutual, a bank I have never belonged to or even considered (excepting their annoying re-branding, re-naming blitz). All I had to do was call and activate the card! It said on the card that I had been a member since 2002. Immediately, I thought identity theft. I called the "WaMu" phone number from the letter and quickly got lost in a hall of mirrors - a string of supposedly live WaMu phone operators who were more automated and frustrating than the computerized ones. All they wanted was my social security number, no one could begin to understand my situation. Thoroughly believing I was being scammed by some WaMu impersonators, I hung up and went to the WaMu website. The number to call was the same as the number that came with the card. Jeez, did these scammers hijack the site or could WaMu really employ such eeeediots? Finally, a semi-cognizant manager told me that WaMu had purchased another credit card company I had briefly used in 2002 for a card with a $500 limit.

Let's recap:

Washington Mutual is in the business of sending unsolicited high-limit credit cards to the mail boxes of people who used another credit card company six or more years ago. They do not check whether those people might still live at those addresses. NO WHERE in the letter that they send out does it list ANY information about the APR of the enclosed card. It could be 40% or more. No worries - Just activate and use!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't we in a little trouble right now from all of this irresponsible money lending? I mean I'm sure that WaMu's aims are altruistic, and I guess it just never occurred to them how some people might actually be tempted to activate and start using those "free" credit cards they send out. Someone should really alert these nice bankers so no one gets hurt...

Jeremiah Wright thinks that God may not be blessing America? Boy is he crazy! I mean with all the nice things we do to our own people and our neighbors, you'd think God would be showering us with hundred dollar bills by now.
Sheesh, what's His problem?

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The end of process...

All the good analog analogies are disappearing. We used to develop our pictures and put them into a scrapbook. Doesn't that scenario just demand Norman Rockwell imagery? Working digitally just doesn’t signify well – there’s no thing to point to. The iconography is total dullsville. A person at the computer is about as dynamic as a rock in a quarry. Where we used to have wonderfully distinct actions and equipment, today we are always corralled back to virtual realms where an endless stream of zeros and ones typically hover in some cruel neon green matrix. Where's the fun in that?

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Concept: Zoofire...

"Zoofire" is a new word I'm offering to the world at no charge. A zoofire (pron: "zu-fire" or "zu-fear-ray") is any precarious event or set of circumstances that could yield magnificently surreal and cinematic moments if something went horrifically wrong. It is also the secret, unspeakable wish for such events to occur.

e.g. - Darnel's shotgun cleaning booth at the church fair was a complete zoofire.

Happy uttering!

(Photo by John Perkinson)

Friday, April 04, 2008

JFK's bomb shelter on Peanut Island...

Of all the presidents who served during the Cold War, Kennedy was the strongest proponent of sheltering citizens from atomic attack. Before the Cuban missile crisis, Kennedy called navy assistant secretary Paul Fay to ask if he had built a bomb shelter for his family. "No," Fay answered jokingly, "I built a swimming pool instead." "You made a mistake," JFK responded. As Fay recalled, "He was dead serious."

-via Metropolis Magazine

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Erupting conceptual doily map...

When one chooses not to have children, one's core creations and dream projects become de facto rugrats. It's largely an abstract kind of parenthood, and sadly one with a far higher mortality rate than birthing babies. Frankly, it's terrifying! But years and years of attempting to rear ideas and personal visions into reality (with a few successes and many more failures) can add up to something - a tangle of weird and wonderful experiences, viewed cumulatively from above, revealing a most unusual and intricate pattern. "Wow," you say. "Was something divine nosing me along all that time, or is this swirling Spirograph my own doing?" Either way, it's ok to pleasantly boggle yourself every once in a while.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Value Nation...

According to the New Yorker, a penny costs 1.7 cents to make. A nickel costs almost a dime. Isn't that crazy? The fundamental symbols of value, of profit, create loss by their very existence.

A consumer drives twenty miles in her SUV to save twenty cents on an item, but she forgets the coupon, so she drives home and gets the coupon, drives back to the store, and they refuse to take the coupon because it expired the day before. Disgruntled, she stops to refuel on the way home.

(photo by Jason Evans)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Why shouldn't you eat this?

Does a cow standing in a field have a point of view? And if it does, is this a reason for us to forgo the Whopper with cheese? If humans are equal to other animals as life forms sharing the planet, it seems permissible for us to kill and be killed, since that is the natural way of survival for many animals. If we see ourselves as superior, then do we use our position to diminish suffering and slaughter? Or do we claim our natural birthright to the top of the food chain and use animal flesh as part of our survival of the fittest regimen?

I find myself a happy meat eater. And yet like many, I have real difficulty separating the value of the ant from the cow from the human - the life force seems sacred regardless of its packaging. I refuse to be a thoughtless, hypocritical meat eater in denial of the brutal realities of factory farming and bulldozed bulls, even if our civilization willfully endoreses such blind spots. But what does my refusal get me? If I accept the bloodbath that provides my dinner, what are my obligations? Do I need to see it, participate in it, embrace it? Even that impulse can be romanticized - the killer animal instinct, the taste of blood, the unfiltered orgy of life and death.