March 21st, 2011 Comments Off
So I’m in LA on someone elses dime and getting tired of the piano player in the lounge of the hotel who is straying too close to “Midnight at the Oasis” for my liking so I head out to walk on the beach near sunset. The ULTRA said bring me back a shell. But the seagulls have been here before me “Pulling Mussles from a…”, so they are all broken.
At this point Venice gets a little feral and Australian, too many louts for me, so I head over to Main St. to look at the shops. It is 7pm, and everything is closed. There is however one store open, and fate has it that it is a used bookstore and art gallery, so I go in.
A man with beachblown hair who I surmise is the proprietor is seated at the back behind a computer hitting the keys hard every now and again, and so I wordless browse the shelves- there are a couple of Sheila Metzner TwinPalms Press editions of “Color” and I check the price and the inside as I always do to see who sold their autographed copy so I can report back- “So who is Bernard and why did he sell your book?” but these are unsigned in mint condition.
Still no word from the owner and I look at the fiction first edition on the other wall and all of the covers are beautifully illustrated or have amazing graphic design, so I say “wow these covers have amazing graphic design” or something equally vapid and the owner looks up…
Well that is where the story begins because for the next 45 minutes variously:
I get the whole story, he store used to be on Abbott Kenney but when the rent went to 6000$/ month he had to bail out sadly after many years-
A man comes in looking to be in his 60′s but very California-preserved and he had randomly walked in one day and ended up befriending the owner Michael and becoming a major patron, just a guy from Iowa with money-
I mention I am reading “Just Kids” by Patti Smith and turns out Michaels’ wife is a big fan and wrote about her I think and I say I got to meet her at the National Book Awards and do I have photo- of her, it’s his wife’s birthday- so I will dig one up Michael- its on its way.
I get smitten by 1. Brassai, Paris at Night, with beautiful reproductions in mint condition and at a reasonable price- 2. I get more smitten by a TwinPalms press copy of Lost Hollywood first edition sheet fed gravure, who also published Sheila’s book, and I remember my old Ellen von Unwerth Snaps that I “had” and then “didn’t” which according to the owner is now going for 5 times what I paid-ouch!
Edit: Elizabeth Avedon has a great article about Jack Woody up recently here.
And there is more but I do want to be able to pay rent when I get home so I decide this is it, and in walks another man who looks vaguely familiar and complains of his trials trying on pants but not being able to feel his legs because he is on too much cough syrup (I’m getting parts of this wrong but essentially this is what it is) so he goes to the bathroom and I say to Michael, “he looks suspiciously like…” and Michael says yes, the guy on Buffy the Vampire Slayer Nick Brendon, so Nick now comes out of the bathroom and Michael says, so Robert here thinks you look suspiciously like” and I am outed as just another Hollywood lookey-lou (did I mention I also saw Dennis Leary and Ray Liota in the hotel!) but I guess the cough syrup thing is making everyone copacetic and he is going to Toronto for a comic-con thing and I am from Toronto sort of so its all a nice coincidental evening.
If you are in Venice, on cough syrup or not, visit Deyermond- their motto is “A book can change your life” and Michael is a true believer, a little crazy, very nice, and he has great books and you should go there and buy one or three.
These are the shells I brought the ULTRA. They suit her perfectly.
cover of Lost Hollywood by Jack Woody, TwinPalms press
November 6th, 2010 Comments Off
Sometimes you get there, you get setup, and, well, read the rest here.
April 8th, 2009 §
So have we learned anything at all from this financial debacle? There are some entities that are too big to fail, ergo, too big to exist. I ask this question naively, but what if?
Google’s share price is currently 360 or so, down from it’s all time high of double that a couple years ago. I don’t know if this reflects a realistic market value for this company, whether speculation is to blame, or flying monkeys. What I do understand is that we have put a lot of faith in Google as reflected in this valuation, and as a result they get to operate with a lot of capital. So what are they doing with all that capital?
I think our understanding of the “internet” is to a large extent now Google’s representation of the internet, and the degree to which the two are entwined suggests to me a kind of transference. In that the internet is this nebulous, always-on, too large to consider interconnected web, a kind of entity, we have imbued Google with similar characteristics. But like the Wizard of Oz, Google is just a software company, or perhaps a technology company, since they never actually “ship” software, only endless beta’s.
And like the Human Genome Project, which may be selling you your own DNA cure for cancer some day, Google has undertaken a mass effort to catalogue “everything” in print. Right now there is a minor dustup over out-of-print titles that they in a sense “own” since they have done the grunt work of scanning them. But what if?
What if we let Google digest everything? What are the consequences of having “everything” available. And what are the consequences of having everything available easily, free, and controlled by one company?
What if Google goes out of business? What happens to all that information? What if they get too big?
This would have sounded silly if it were not a fact that we have seen and will see the demise of several Wall Street Investment banks, a number of very large commercial banks, and two thirds of the US auto industry. All within a year. Masters of the Universe no more.
So it is not silly to ask, what if?
And anyway, do we really want one company in control of that much published work?
(right now you can search all of New York Magazine’s back issues to 1997, conveniently when I started working for them, and you can see all the shitty pictures I took by searching my name…the blessing at the time was, “its only on the newsstand for a week!” OY!)
Despite their mantra to do no evil, Google has destroyed things simply by its existence. Online advertising is one thing that Google, with it’s adsense, has made ubiquitous, cheap, and irrelevant. Do you look at Google ads? Me neither. Yet their presence brings the value of other ads down, and makes them less effective. Adsense is the muzak of the internet. You hardly know it’s there. But it is one reason in my opinion that magazines and newspapers have not been able to generate sufficient revenue from their online ads. Please correct me, or point me to another analysis if this is way out. But I don’t think it’s that far off base.
So I ask, by cataloguing most of human written knowledge, could they destroy its value somehow? Is there a value in things not being explicit, easy to find, simple? How do our tools shape our thoughts?
February 16th, 2009 §
The Boom is Over. Long Live Art!
Some real gems:
Every year art schools across the country spit out thousands of groomed-for-success graduates, whose job it is to supply galleries and auction houses with desirable retail. They are backed up by cadres of public relations specialists — otherwise known as critics, curators, editors, publishers and career theorists — who provide timely updates on what desirable means.
Many of those specialists are, directly or indirectly, on the industry payroll, which is controlled by another set of personnel: the dealers, brokers, advisers, financiers, lawyers and — crucial in the era of art fairs — event planners who represent the industry’s marketing and sales division. They are the people who scan school rosters, pick off fresh talent, direct careers and, by some inscrutable calculus, determine what will sell for what.
And where is art in all of this? Proliferating but languishing. “Quality,” primarily defined as formal skill, is back in vogue, part and parcel of a conservative, some would say retrogressive, painting and drawing revival. And it has given us a flood of well-schooled pictures, ingenious sculptures, fastidious photographs and carefully staged spectacles, each based on the same basic elements: a single idea, embedded in the work and expounded in an artist’s statement, and a look or style geared to be as catchy as the hook in a rock song.
Just read the whole thing.
February 20th, 2008 §
My MFA-thesis brain has been on nyquil and tylenol lately which makes it difficult to remain standing…
I’ll be off for a week. In the meantime, check out the Bert Stern pics of Lindsay Lohan as Marilyn Monroe. Apart from the general ‘wtf’ reaction, it did make me think, we have our “JFK” again, I guess we need our “Marilyn”.