Saturday, May 31, 2008

Forget yourself...

Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music - the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself!

- Henry Miller

("Happy New Year!" by Isabella Rozendaal)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Confidence - Game...

"Whatever I do is done out of sheer joy. I drop my fruits like a ripe tree.
What the general reader or the critic makes of them is not my concern."

Henry Miller

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Gatekeeper's Syndrome...

In your life you will encounter many gatekeepers, people invested with a certain amount of power who can grant or refuse you access to something you need or desire. How will you deal with these individuals? The problem with gatekeepers is that they are in a position to needlessly complicate or deflate your life, that is if your life includes any plans to get somewhere or do business with someone of interest.

Let's say for example that you are driving around Big Sur on a busy holiday weekend looking for a place to pitch your tent. You drive in to every campground and you ask the person in the entry booth if there are any sites available. "No," they say. So you move on to the next one. Everywhere is full, or so the gatekeepers say. It's getting late, so you decide to take matters into your own hands. You go back to one of the places where the gatekeeper insisted nothing was available, you bypass the gatekeeper, and of course you find three lovely, empty sites. For whatever reason (their love of rejecting others, misinformation, they didn't like your face) the gatekeeper was not a rational steward of public assistance. They became, in some sense, mythological obstacles that one must charm, outsmart, or bribe. In fact, in several instances on our last trip to Big Sur, bribing jokes were made by campground gatekeepers. Not that they intended to act upon those instincts, but they were fully and playfully aware of the option to squeeze money for favors.

Of course, the film industry is full of all kinds of gatekeepers, as are politics. In both of these arenas, one's power can be measured by their ability to grant or deny access to some one or some thing. So finally, I present for you in one tidy sentence the concept of Gatekeeper's Syndrome: The warping of facts, enactment of private agendas, and irrational value judgments that occur when a human being is put in charge of any point of access.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Free Cinema...

Very interested in the mad, ecstatic, free cinema of the following visionary directors: Walerian Borowczyk, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Dusan Makavajev, Chris Marker, Ken Russell, Kenneth Anger, Jan Svankmajer, Terry Gilliam, and Guy Maddin. To some extent you could also add Peter Greenaway, Stanley Kubrick, The Brothers Quay, and Andrei Tarkovsky to the list (among others), with the understanding that they bring an infinitely more anal approach to creating worlds. They lack the unselfconsciousness and total abandon and willingness to get lost of the others.

Lately, I feel that if you're going to go to the enormous trouble of making a movie, why try to replicate the realism we are so surrounded by in our daily lives? Why not use that cinematic space, that silver screen, to mine the furthest reaches of the human psyche and attempt to express the mysterious, unbridled worlds of our dreams and nightmares? Of course, this kind of indulgence can go wrong fast - there are many moments in the works of each of these directors that leave me cold and nauseated and yearning for straight narrative. Particularly Guy Maddin. He frustrates more than inspires. But I have to admit that the inspiration these directors offer is born of nausea and a willing derailment from the familiar behaviors we use to buffer ourselves from the orgiastic realms of Hieronymous Bosch that lurk within.

(Polaroid of Alejandro Jodorowsky)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Cluster at HML...

I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity this weekend to repay two of my brothers for the life-altering kindness they showed me in the 70's and early 80's by including me in their esoteric and obscure musical explorations. So many of the tent poles that hold up the bizarre fabric of my current reality were forged in the fog of those strange sonic worlds that emanated from their vinyl-loving stereo rig.

One of their many great discoveries, Cluster, a German duo of thoughtful ambient ditties, renown for their work with Brian Eno, were a distant memory until Sarah mentioned that "some German band" was playing a gig at the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur. You might recall the great enthusiasm I expressed after seeing Matmos there last year. Cluster in this setting was simply too rich, too dreamy to let pass. Such fond memories of their warm bleeps and bloops, Krautrock for the ecstatic yearners. Surely these were old men by now. And how great! A lifetime of painting in sound.

One of my brothers made it. The other, too busy with work, opted for cat sitting duty. The night of, about a hundred or so of us sat bundled in blankets under the stars as the warm up bands Arp and Wooden Shjips warmed up the night. Then the elder Germans took the stage. I'll say this: There's no greatest hits act for Cluster. Like fine jazz musicians playing in their prime, the show appeared to be a one-of-a-kind wonder never to be reproduced. I could be wrong about this - given the amount of technology involved in their music, there must be a certain level of non-spontaneity. Still, it all felt completely fresh and tailored precisely to the contours of Henry's chilly garden. The accompanying visuals were great too. Slow moving abstractions and geometric scaffoldings projected in the pine trees.

The next morning we ran into Messrs. Roedelius and Moebius of Cluster at Deetjens. Roedelius, on the left, was the designated fan charmer. He said they didn't play their "old stuff in order to keep from getting old." Which makes perfect sense. They were off to San Francisco to play a gig, and they were interested in knowing about the venue, where I had been. "Is it near Fisherman's Wharf?" Moebius asked. All the blissful bleeps in the world and still the tourist bug bites... Menschliches, Allzumenschliches!

As go blueberries...

The things they pass off as blueberries in California are just rude imitations of the sweet, flavorsome orbs I've tasted elsewhere. They have no flavor, actually, strike that, they have the revolting flavor of the chemicals used to keep the bugs away from their thick rubbery skins, which allow them to sit in the supermarket for longer spells. It's true, if you don't like the taste of chemicals, you can buy organic blueberries for around $9 a box, and by box I don't mean this, I mean this.

Fact is, true wild blueberries (section Cyanococcus of the genus Vaccinium) occur only in eastern North America. Other sections in the genus, native to other parts of the world including western North America, Europe, and Asia, include other wild shrubs producing similar-looking edible berries such as huckleberries, bilberries and cowberries. These are sometimes colloquially called blueberries and sold as such.

If it looks like a blueberry and Whole Foods puts them in a nice display that says blueberries, then mmmm... must be blueberries! I could launch into a diatribe here likening this economics-based switcheroo and willful leaching of the blueberry's essence from its visual packaging to something I see going on in our own species... But I'll let you bridge that gap yourself. Or just read on...

Snow job...

Yesterday's NYTimes magazine opens with a piece about John McCain's notion of a "League of Democracies." This summoning of a "global coalition for peace and freedom" is really something to pay attention to, especially in regards to whom is selling it to us. Why? Because, beneath its shimmering surface, this emotionally charged, visionary plan stinks of the natural greed and power mongering that underlies all politics, but especially conservative politics.

Here's how it works: you sell the pristine ideals of a thriving, symbiotic global democracy to hearts and minds of disenfranchised peoples everywhere, and as the ideas take hold, you end up with a centralized capitalist government very much in the business of maximizing and controlling a global economy, collecting the profits and asserting the agendas of a chosen few. Do you see that? The switcheroo? You thought you were getting a system of grand ideas, but really you signed up for a system that reduces you to a twig in an economic woodchipper.

It's especially dangerous, because a one world government plays right into the post-60's liberal rock n' roll ideal of "coming together," if only we overcome our differences "that the world will live as one." Peace and freedom man that's all we ever wanted... The men behind the curtain are paying attention, and they will most likely succeed in giving YOU something you think you want that will divert you from the snow job switcheroo at hand.

OK, I know it's a little simple to put it out there like this, tidy conspiracies are the the hobgoblins of feeble minds, but will you do yourself a favor and keep a close eye on this as it develops? Isn't it possible that people who've had a taste of power will create overarching systems to maintain and exploit that power?

(photograph by Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Against the fleeting...

You spend time around people, of all the things, and you catch a glimpse of their deep wiring. Some key aspect of an identity is unknowingly revealed:

Oh look, Bob's a myth-builder with a flair for crowd control and bringing out the rowdy poetry in men. Hey, Ethyl's a brilliant narcissistic child who experiences private glee in using her enormously flexible communication skills to get what she wants without most people ever knowing it. Boy Sonya can plan, she wakes up at dawn saying to herself, "what might I need today?" and stomps around and makes a ruckus looking for umbrellas in the back of closets if there's a 10% chance of rain.

And through all of this you remain fascinated by what can only be described as the dances of people, their unconscious and robust strategies for being alive, but more than that, their in-life-ness. Very beautiful to see, even if it's not, especially if it's not, how you would do it, if you were doing it at all.

(still from Futureworld)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


My sweet mochi has taken to quoting our sage pal Jason whenever I assert a stupidity - something I do often and with gusto. "What would Jason Evans Do?" she asks innocently enough... It's annoyingly effective.

How do some people tap so effortlessly into the deep knowledge of good, righteous living? I sense it, but must fumble through the dark to find it, knocking over everything in my path and smiting myself about the head and body till I'm dog dizzy and tattooed with contusions. Everyone dances different.

"I am over the whole 'make poverty history' initiative. How about 'make greed history'? That way we have to look at ourselves instead of trying to seek blame and cause elsewhere..."

- Jason Evans (seen here eating an incendiary, and therefore cropped, cookie)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

In the key of ignition ...

What are your triggers? The things that make you perk up, pay attention, stop what you're doing? What do you willfully gaze upon, listen to, run your hand along, savor on your tongue, draw deeply through your nostrils? What thoughts, what words, what books, what collisions of circumstance make for fireworks in your brain? In short, what turns you on? Sex? OK sure, that's fairly universal, keep going... More obscure, more personal. Make your list. Pretend you have PET scan vision - as though you could view a color coded map of your brain lighting up like a rainbow in response to different stimuli. Know thyself!

(photo by Jason Lazarus)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Monday Reality Check...

Is it possible that you're spending too much time and energy lugging around old things?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Looking good!

The thing that really makes this image work for me is the tree in the background.
I mean it's practically stalking this poor little creature as it quickly laps up its only meal of the day. Why can't those trendy "green" trees stop ruining our civilization?

Hey Sister Success, I've been known to appear in a few unflattering snaps myself... We love you just the way you are!

("Marijke" by Isabella Rozendaal)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

This makes sense...

A single life is like a lens that collects and bends light. When the lens "dies" the light disperses and becomes wild light again.

- based on an idea by Todd Walker.

("Running Field" by Ryan McGinley)

Friday, May 16, 2008

San Marcos River...

It's topping 100 degrees in LA today. The swelter factor has been dormant for months, and its sudden arrival is a shock. Sitting in an outdoor cafe now, melting, working, enduring. We could go inside to consume some easy L.A. A/C, but my work partner is going to India soon, so this is good training. The yen for cool refreshment reminds me of my brother's home of San Marcos, Texas, a quiet, bucolic university town located between Austin and San Antonio. It gets damn hot in San Marcos and wet-blanket humidity is the norm. Given these conditions, what makes it such a great place is the slow-rolling, spring-fed river that runs through its center. People use the river as a form of transportation - strip down, hop in, hold your clothes over your head, float home, dry off on the walk from the river bank to your front door. Incredible. There are very few "true" spring fed rivers in the US - most are fed by runoff, larger bodies of water, or a combination of sources. My brother and his family are incredibly lucky to have this pristine geological rarity at their disposal - the water is constantly regenerated, crystal clear, and always the same temperature year round.

San Marcos River info here and here.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Fashions of the times (and the spaces)...

If there is an intelligent designer, does he/she also have good taste? More specifically, are we just used to nature's color choices - is that makes the natural world seem so visually balanced and coordinated? Because this place could look radically different if we were subject to more random color combinations.

("False Color Map" from Ransen Software)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Scion's fate...

There are certain twisted father son pairings that bring on a queasy feeling. The Georges are the most obvious. One has to wonder if there isn't some over-arching, mind-bending theory of history that might explain this duo's rise to power and shed some light on the finer points of this friendly sounding New World Order...

I also happen to notice (reading Sunday's NY Times) that Frank Sinatra Jr. appeared yesterday at J&R Music World at their Midtown Manhattan store. Why? To sign copies of "Nothing But the Best" his dad's new greatest hits CD of course! There's something in the the image of Frank Jr. with a sharpie in his fat paw, nose breathing, signing disks for dad, that fills me with a weepy swelling in my chest, like a bad Martin Scorsese movie. There's also something that fills me with the dankest of melancholias - like a bad Frank Sinatra movie.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Books remember...

Sarah says it's easier to recall and discuss the precise content of (non-fiction) books rather than movies. Even well-produced documentaries. I agree, they are two totally different ways of processing information. The book actively engages the mind and the memory and also some sort of "gestalt" muscle that strives to comprehend the deep nature of the details, and fit them into an over-arching scheme. Films do much of the heavy lifting for you, and engage the eyes and ears to a much greater degree. The effect of this is a more passive engagement of the memory and gestalt receptors. As an example, we observed someone fumble through a recap of "Who killed the Electric Car" ("so these electric cars were made by some big company and then they were taken off the market because the oil companies or because the car companies didn't want them out there, and they recalled them...) and yet completely seize upon the innards of the book Freakonomics as owned information that could be instantly and confidently asserted and woven into conversation without any memory lag or lack.

("A Young Girl Reading" by Fragonard)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Hypnogogic Zoo debut...

I do believe it's time to reveal my new blog: Hypnogogic Zoo.

I know, the title doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. Hypnogogic you ask? Don't worry, you won't have to say it much... Weddings, sporting events, political rallies, religious gatherings, important office meetings, movie theaters, etc.

It is true that animals are an abiding obsession in the realms of Gazpachot. I've had the notion of a dedicated animal zone for a while, and frankly I don't know why it took so long to come crawling out of its hole. At any rate, I hope you enjoy it and look forward to your feedback.

My take is this: Animals effect us on two important levels 1) as other living beings with whom we share this planet, and 2) as potent, dreamlike triggers that reach deep into the mind's eye and shape various aspects of our own consciousness.

As humanity moves further away from nature, I can't help but feel that we are continually haunted by a kingdom of beautiful and mysterious creatures – conscious, living reminders of a natural world, a world that predates and underlies our own species' master creation: civilization. They do not judge us, in fact many of them seem quite adaptable to our modernity. In return we anthropomorphize them to suit our needs and alleviate our frustration over their inscrutability.

Yes, Gazpachot will continue in full force, so stay tuned in here for your daily soup. I thank you for stopping by both sites whenever you can.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day...

Friday, May 09, 2008

Another day...

As often as your choices might give you pause,
the ability NOT to ask, "How did I get here?" will take you far. Way far.

"We all live in the protection of certain cowardices which we call our principles."

- Mark Twain

Thursday, May 08, 2008


To the extent that one is obliged to wonder exactly what Keith Richards' borrowed life is like, this photograph offers some invaluable evidence.

("Keith" by Annie Leibovitz for Louis Vuitton)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Arbor Abattoire...

This image is unexpectedly startling to me. The living aspect of trees has always been clear to me, but somehow the extraction of wood boards from tree trunks never struck me as an act of butchery. I'm not getting soft here (am I?). I love a wooden table. I'm sitting at one now. It's just that I am extremely interested in any situation where man terminates a life, any living thing, to sustain his own, especially if it's done discretely as a service to our death denying masses.

("Billon" by Vincent Kohler)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Borealis breath...

The boat is going very fast across the bay, even though I’ve got the throttle down very low. My vision is blurred by the waves and low clouds mixed with moonlight.
I can make out that there are swimmers in the water and waterskiers and buoys around. I don’t think I’m hitting anyone or anything, but who knows. Someone suggests we go swimming. I park the boat and jump out onto a sheet of ice. It’s thin but it holds. We all go running fast to the ice edge and some of us, including me, jump in the water which is of course dream freezing. Others have stayed on the ice. I am holding a hockey skate and suddenly I fear that holding it is going to tire me out as I tread water. I do start tiring and my head goes under. I drop the skate and grab the ice edge which breaks off at first but then supports me like a sheet of flexible plastic. I feel bad about dropping the skate and know that when someone asks where it is, I’ll struggle with what to say. Leaving the water I climb through a window and momentarily I’m on the porch of the Red House. Then I’m back treading water. The ocean? Where did we park the boat? I have no idea. Where are the landmarks on open water?

Monday, May 05, 2008

Incredible footage...

Is this surefooted climber fearless or just focused to the point of ignoring fear? His or her moves exude confidence and agility, but there is very little appreciation of the place or the human ingenuity that brought this architectural nightmare a reality. We see a bold, singular agenda - move forward fast. Sometimes a talent comes at the expense of other abilities. There's only so much energy to be allotted I guess.

This magnificent, dilapidated walkway, El Caminito del Rey ("The King's pathway"), is in El Chorro ("The Crazy"), near Málaga, Spain. It was built in 1901 as a means of transporting materials from one side of the gorge to the other. It is officially closed now due to some fatal falls, but of course people continue to risk the journey.
Read more here.

The fact that this place was ever open to the public and that people were allowed to decide for themselves if they wanted to face such dangers, speaks volumes to the different legal cultures of Europe and the US.

Sorry for the music which makes me er, jumpy, you too? Just watch Mit Out Sound.

(Thanks Hone!)

Friday, May 02, 2008

On top of old Google...

Much of today's copywriting for the web is based on achieving prime Google placement. This marketing strategy is having a tremendous impact on the way people write online, the actual words chosen, particularly in the business world where being on top is always the cat’s pajamas. I call this new voice Reductive Googlism. Basically, you want to reverse engineer how people write searches. Don't write: "we represent a vast array of inspiring image-makers..." who will search with those dusty old terms? Say: "We search for and find professional visual artists including the best photographers, top illustrators, premiere font makers, number one graphic designers, leading art directors and greatest scene painters working in the industry for you to hire." Did you see all the "hot" words in there? If I want to "Hire best professional font maker" or "find top professional painters" guess where Google will take me?

Thing is: Since many people are getting their news and other key services online these days, one must consider the impact this development will have on the way we receive information. Because "professional copywriter" is one of the hats hanging on my hat-rack, I can tell you that it’s a sad and fascinating linguistic shift that’s underfoot.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Tintin-based Titanic iconography...

I've already covered the fact that Mel Gibson completely ripped off a Tintin plot for his otherwise visually stunning Apocalypto. And now I submit James Cameron's shameless lift of a maritime Tintin moment for your files. Arguably, Cameron had the sense to set this romantic scene between two humans, but then again, have you seen Snowy in a negligee?

Clearly, Tintin's influence is incalculable. Am I looking forward to the Peter Jackson/Steven Spielberg cinematic Tintin trilogy in the works? Thompson: “It all looks very fishy to me.” Thomson: “To be precise: the whole thing looks like me, very fishy.”

(Image on loan from this interesting site)