Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Monday's Quote on Tuesday - Haskell

But one of the attributes of love, like art, is to bring harmony and order out of chaos, to introduce meaning and affect where before there was none, to give rhythmic variations, highs and lows to a landscape that was previously flat.
- Molly Haskell
From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies
Molly Haskell is one of my favorite film writers.  Her book, From Reverence to Rape, about the depiction of women in cinema, is a seminal tome of feminist film criticism.  She's sharp and insightful.  She's also married to fantastic film critic Andrew Sarris, another of my favorite writers and thinkers.
Maybe she's put her finger on why it's so easy to be intoxicated by art and by love - maybe it is what we have replaced our connection to nature with - a feeling of being carried along on a definitive journey.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Monday's Quote - Lao-Tze

Watch your thoughts; they become words.

Watch your words; they become actions.

Watch your actions; they become habits.

Watch your habits; they become character.

Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

I'm hoping this is the one for today.  I've tried blogging several quotes, several times since this morning, and the browser has crashed.  

Maybe it's just Mercury retrograde, or maybe it's nothing, but if this goes through, then it must be the right one!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Yum 8 - On Salons and Sugar aka This Dork's Life

What a funny week.  Funny ha-ha and funny weird.  I know it's not a full week since I posted the last one, but the last one was super-late and I'm trying to slide back on sched.  Like you care.


Back in the day, Katy and I tried to have a weekly salon in our apartment.  It was a pot luck Sunday thing, with the idea that we’d get all the arty creative types together and something would bloom.  It did -  eating and cooking and conversation – but we could  never get the art part to really happen.  Maybe that’s cause most of the artists we know were actually putting it out there 6 days a week as it was, so they might’ve needed a break to be foodies and friends.  We kept it up a while, then scaled back to monthly, and it was always good times.  We know a lot of great chefs and it was always cool in Santa Monica and walks to the beach were good, too.  Then Katy moved to NY, I got lazy, then I left…life moves on.  And there’s always Primitivo.

This week, I’ve effectively been to two salons.  In LA, in 2010.  For real.  Jealous?

The first was an open mic in the Brewery complex.  Now, they call it an open mic, except it’s in an artist’s loft, and there’s food and drinks and no sign-up sheet and it’s mostly about the spirit moving you.  Hosted by Stosh Machek, co-hosted by Brenda Petrakos, the night made its way through three power outages – one lasting over an hour where flashlights were called for – and several 12-packs of beer.  It encouraged a lot of new and lapsed writers to get up and speak and left room for socializing.

The second was actually called a salon, and featured performance and baked goods.  Yum yum yum.  In a beautiful old Hollywood style apartment, we gathered and drank prosecco and elderflower, or red wine or port, ate cheeses and fig tart and clafoutis and chocolate cake and brownies and more and more and more, and were treated to performances by musicians and singers and writers.  It was a new group of people and artists for me, which is always scary and fun, but since they don’t know they’re being blogged, I won’t name-check ‘em.

I am suffering a massive sugar hangover today - okay, there was some alcohol, too - due to the above-mentioned salon and the Tisch West Cinema Screening Series where I had wine and a goopy mocha cupcake after a screening of


OMG – SCOTT PILGRIM IS SO META!  IT’S EXTRA META…IT’S META META!  Scott Pilgrim is High Fidelity on acid; it's Spaced with a real budget and real effects.

Yes, next level genre transcendence has been reached.  Geek chic has tilted the machine, the promise of Revenge of the Nerds has been fully realized and it’s a new age for movies altogether.

Edgar Wright proves his skillful direction – fulfilling not only every joke in the script, but also its emotional impact – and, sadly,  that he doesn’t need Simon Pegg to make a movie.  (But oh how I missed him!)  

Michael Bacall has a script credit and has gone far beyond his previous writing with this. 

Michael Cera proves once again that he is the best Michael Cera out there, nobody can whoop his Michael Cera's a** and that we like us some Michael Cera.

Who is Ellen Wong and why is she so damn cute?  Who are all these adorable-hot geek-cool girls and why do they hang out with such TOTAL DWEEBS?  When is Jason Schwartzmann going to stop being so frakkin awesome he steals movies in the last reel?  When will Kieran Culkin be in all movies and become the next oh we slept on him but now we get it Robert Downey, Jr.?  (See Igby Goes Down if you still don’t get it.)

Will costume designer Laura Jean Shannon come fill my closet with clothes and sneeks?  Pretty plessy?

And how do I get a first name like Knives?

This movie knows it’s a movie – like Stranger than Fiction or Adaptation – but it knows more than that – it knows it’s a network intersect of pop culture, fiction, movies, video games, the hero’s journey, this dork’s life, slacker-arty culture, our collective fears as a race and as a generation, and our need for Hot Topic to exist despite the fact that we wouldn’t consider shopping there anymore (except just enough to save them from filing for Chapter 11).

Is this movie so referential (like Community - a show I'm absolutely falling in love with) it's moved us to post-referentialism?  (What will the spoken word artists and MC's do?)  Is all that reverential referentialism detrimental to the storytelling or is it our new form of connectivism?

I haven’t read the graphic novels – I’m not that kinda geek – but it has to have transcended them exactly as it should for this screen adaptation.  It’s maybe 7 minutes too long, but only because they’ve got heaps of narrative to get through.

And despite that, I'm heading to a theatre to see it again.  <3's and Ramona Flowers to you.

Behind The Scenes 'Scott Pilgrim vs. The World' - mary-elizabeth-winstead photo
Ramona Flowers - the love interest -- and her cool hair.  The only other chick I know who changes her hair that often is Judy Holiday.  Oh, wait, I don't know Ramona Flowers.  And she's not real.

Friday, 20 August 2010

change just rearranges

You can keep fighting change, but it just rearranges itself.  You can't outrun it; you can tire yourself out chasing it.  While we slouch toward entropy, our spiritual progression is undeniable, as if we are getting fitter spiritually while the universe spreads and becomes increasingly complex.

There will be gay marriage.  Universally.

There will be a new mosque in lower Manhattan.  (Maybe not this one, this time, but there will.)

You can't un-open the doors of equality and progression in the human spirit.  You cannot fight change, but you can exhaust yourself trying.  You can hate so hard that you forget to build your own life.

We cannot legislate backward.  Like we will never fully be able to recover the privacies we lost during the Bush Administration, we also will not lose the gains we've made on the roads to equality.  The march slows down, speeds up, gets a nice downhill clip sometimes, but the addage holds true:  forward ever, backward never.

No effort is ever wasted.

I don't know when there will be unilateral access to marriage for same-sex couples, or when U.S. citizens will embrace Islam as a part of its diverse culture.  But I do like the Constitution and the Bill of Rights for odds-makers.  I'd bet on those holding up.

Gays in the military?  Yup.

Peace in the Middle East?  Can't say.  Just can't say.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Leaving New York

Terrible Honesty: Mongrel Manhattan in the 1920sA premise of Ann Douglas’ book Terrible Honesty is that all the great and famed artists of Roaring 20’s Manhattan didn’t actually create any of their great and famed art in Manhattan.  Simply put, they all had to leave the crazy, bustling, invigorating city to get any damn work done.

She includes the writers and artists of both the Harlem Renaissance and the Fitzgerald/Hemingway crowd in her study and shows one by one how they ran away to create their signature oeuvres.

From Gershwin to Hurston, some went to Connecticut, some to Paris, but they all fled Manhattan and its social whirl, despite being so strongly identified with the metropolis.

From first-hand experience I know how tough it is to be a creating artist in Manhattan.  It wasn’t until I moved to LA – a place I constantly refer to as dull and boring – that I was able to get a real practise going.

But it’s 2010 and now the question is simply this:

Where can we possibly go?  Where can we hide?

Michael Stipe knows leaving New York never easy, but the whole world is New York now.  The whole world is a crazy social butterfly twittering around dropping by petal after petal looking pretty.

When do we work?  When do we escape to and how to we get anything done?

I’m learning to manage more and more, but it means cutting the connectivity down on an ever-escalating scale in response to its daily increase.  It means managing my own expectations of how much can get done by when and sticking to the plan, sticking to the plan, sticking to the plan.

What do you do if your plan’s not that sticky, if your resolve hasn’t been forged by continued adversity, if you’re prone to attention deficit? 

I don’t know.  Follow the fire, not the sparks.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Yum 7 - From the Cheese to the Cheesy


OMG – Thank you Trader Joe’s!  I had this at crafty the other day and got way too into it.  I had to get some myself.  I didn’t have havarti cheese til I was like 25 or something.  I remember my friend Eddie telling me how dangerous it was – how he could just eat a whole block of it.  It is fairly impossible to stop – buttery, soft, yet chewy, great on sandwiches.  The dill one has a nice extra layer of taste going.

Truly a yum.


No, I don’t watch them.  I do, however, work on them periodically.  And you know, after a ten-hour day, I am fairly convinced that whatever it is that we are selling on that given day is going to make my life absolutely perfect if I have it.

Now sit with me on this for a minute, if you will…

That thought is comforting.  Yes.  Comforting.

Pefection is achievable in your life – my life – if we only add this one, new thing to it.  This exercise gizmo or that skin product is going to change our lives, solve our biggest problem and, in fact, erase the inherent universal tendency toward chaos.

For however long I am there, I deeply believe this, focus intently on my work and basically have no problems for a monthly payment of $14.95.

It’s like a vacation.  Plus, the crafty is real good (see above).

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.  I am not a big Universal Studios/Citywalk fan, but whenever I am there, this place is a must stop.  I discovered Popcornopolis when we were shooting a movie and we used it as a location.  Now, I’m an addict.

Old-Tyme Classics Gift Basket
This is the best popcorn in the world (except maybe that place in O’Hare Airport you can smell as soon as you get off the place).   The first bite -- no wait – lemme go get some from the kitchen and eat it while I type this…hold on.

Oh, bliss.  You bite in and it offers a little crunchy resistance and then it caves in your mouth like acquiescent, fluffy cloud-like butter.  I’m eating the caramel one now.  They have like 30 flavours to choose from.  My favorites are the cheese, caramel, kettle corn, and the chocolate.

Popcorn is one of life’s pleasures (it has no other discernible merits) and after being in London where the popcorn is – sorry – sh*t, this is the purest pleasure imaginable.

Get some.

Okay – best for last….WHY was I at Universal you ask?  To see…

YES!  (Problem:  Can’t stop eating the popcorn long enough to type a full thought.)

My friend Tara had an extra ticket to the MEAT LOAF concert!  Hells yeah!

He opened with Hot Patootie – a crowd pleaser if there ever was one – and they ran clips from Rocky Horror behind him – double-crowd pleaser.

At 62, he can still rock it.  With a sense of humour, play, and goofy fun.  He’s weak in a part of his register, but not the part he needs for the power ballads, so it’s all good.  He did all those songs you love – Bat Out of Hell featured the appearance of a really huge bat with laser red eyes and Paradise by the Dashboard Light had a weird blow-up doll with hands feeling her up that was too silly for words.

I'd forgotten how many great memorable lines he had in his songs like:
You took the words right outta my mouth
It musta been while you were kissing me

I would do anything for love 
But I won't do that
Still I don't wanna know the answer to what is he won't do....

The audience was kinda, um, on the older side and acted like they were at home watching their flat screens.  We were rocking and there was a guy, maybe 24, in our row who didn’t sit down the whole show and knew every word.

Me and Tara bought matching shirts – not on purpose.  The lady selling the shirts said she was done.  She didn’t have much respect for Meat.  I tried to get her to smile, but she said it wasn’t her thing at all.  Still it doesn’t seem like the worst job.  The crowd was pretty docile.

The show was extra fun cause we had worked on a movie with him.  He’s a different person on stage, or different persona, but knowing that he’s one of the cool people in the world makes it easier to have a good time.

Mos def the highlight of the week.

Here's a new one we liked:

Monday, 16 August 2010

Yay for Poetic Diversity!

This is a great website and the brainchild of Marie Lecrivain, who has been giving it life for 8 years.

Kudos to Marie for coalescing the poetry community of LA and beyond into an archive of great work.

And though I'd be thrilled if you checked out my featured poems, I'm also just spreading the word - there are hundreds of superior poets on the site.  You could be one of them -- check out the submission guidelines.

Monday's Quote - Paul Arden

When it can’t be done, do it.  If you don’t do it, it doesn’t exist.

Ran across this quote again while re-reading It's Not How Good You are, It's How Good You Want to Be.  I love this book, and re-read it a lot whenever I see it in a store.  It's short and a fast read and full of truth.  It's not at all self-helpy, but it is helpful.  

 It's Not How Good You Are, Its How Good You Want to Be: The World's Best Selling BookIt's Not How Good You Are, Its How Good You Want to Be: The World's Best Selling BookIt's Not How Good You Are, Its How Good You Want to Be: The World's Best Selling BookIt's Not How Good You Are, Its How Good You Want to Be: The World's Best Selling Book

Arden is not someone who couldn't be successful in life, so decided to coach other people while making bucks off their confusion.  He is someone with a lot of wit, and exceptional communication skills.

I think this quote is great advice - like most of the advice in the book - because it gives us great freedom to fail.  Go do it simply because it doesn't exist.  If you do a bad job, probably no one will find out about, so essentially, it still won't exist.  Thus the opportunity is still there for you to create it again and again until it is right and people do notice.  And if it can't be done, nobody's going to blame you for trying.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

two things

Sometimes I think we are just the sum of the questions we don't, or won't ask.

That, and Community is hilarious.

Community: The Complete First Season

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

2nd is 1st

Alfie told me to blog about this, so…okay.  I never tag Alfie, cause I think a:  everybody knows her and 2:  my friends should keep some small shred of their privacy when I blog about them.  Oxymoronic ironic, I know.

I’m not sure if this is my idea, or if it’s original, or when I first thought it, however, my notion is that it’s often better to come second, in linear time, than it is to come first.  By better, I mean more profitable and more able to influence.  In a market sense, it is often best not to be an innovator, but an adaptor.

That is to say, it’s “better” to be Bill Gates than Steve Jobs, Starbucks than Peet’s and Elvis instead of an authentic blues musician.

Better in terms of capitalization.  I suppose it’s a form of imperialism.  Bill Gates saw what Apple was doing, adapted it (poorly), dressed it up (badly), and convinced users it was the solution to all their problems (it wasn’t), by charging them less.  Now, that’s my personal opinion about MicroSoft.  I believe Apple has a more user-friendly, better-designed and more durable product.  I know it’s more expensive.  Market share has always been with MicroSoft and MicroSoft-based machines.  As a software and computer technology leader, I think Gates is less than many other people, but he is a leader among entrepreneurs.  I’m also particularly partial to his second act – The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – which I do think shows a true trailblazing spirit, independent thinking, grand commitment, and tremendous desire for facilitating change.

To me, Peet's is better coffee, a much better experience, and yet there’s not a Peet’s on every corner.  The guy who started Starbucks learned how to roast and brew coffee from the founder of Peet’s.  And so it goes.  However – was Peet’s vision as a company ever to be ubiquitous or was it to maintain a high quality of product and service?

In light of the Skype IPO – do you buy in?  Or wait for the next round?  Yahoo ---->;  Google.  (Remember Jeeves?  No?)  Betamax ----> VHS.  Across the board, people loved their Betamaxes, but that didn’t stop a simpler format from taking hold.  Recently the industry tried to cut this off at the pass with the Blu-Ray discussion, but I think they talked so long that that enhanced DVD format is already destined for the cultural graveyard in light of streaming video.

Over-saturation makes market dominance, and unfortunately, that is what drives the stock market and profits.  A lot of people say Lady Gaga is just biting Madonna, but my feeling is that it’s more than that, and a quick glance at her bio will show you she knows what she's doing.  Madonna, like Apple, like Peet’s, created the hunger for what would be a new form of mass market appetite.  Lady Gaga benefits from the globalization of entertainment that Madonna pioneered along with a few other artists.  Starbucks benefits from the high-end coffee audience created by trailblazers like Peet’s, and MicroSoft benefited from the sexiness of the Mac, which made regular people want to own computers.

Is Tesla the next Tucker?  (I think not, but I know I’m out on a limb on that.)  Who’s gonna beat out Hulu – they do have a lot of licensing agreements…

And then there’s Amazon and Netflix – paragons of seeing it, getting there first, and staying on top. 

Me, I like to be first.  I like to pioneer.  It’s probably a character flaw, and up to now, it hasn’t been all that profitable.  But I’m learning about timing, and slow-building and I think it may all work out.

I’m sure you’ve got your own examples.  Go ahead and shout out in the comments below or disagree or just say hi.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Monday's Quote - Rothko

Silence is so accurate.
-Mark Rothko

Wow.  Could listen to that resonate all day.

(Painting by Mark Rothko)

Have a great week!

Friday, 6 August 2010

So random, it can't be random

I just found FrancEyE's blog - I didn't know that I knew she had one.  And the poem I clicked right to -- no, not random.  It's nice to see her again, though.

She is missed.

Yum 6 - Rickie Lee Jones, Potato Tacos, Fringe

It’s true – I didn’t write one last week.  But here’s what’s good, what’s new and what’s happening.

I’d never seen Rickie Lee Jones, except for one time, trying to sneak in the back way of a little club in Mill Valley where she was playing a gig that was sold out and part of the film festival.  I couldn’t really see her, or hear her, but I tried.

I was totally thrilled that she was going to be at the Pier this summer as part of the 26th (!) Annual Twilight Dance Series.

She opened with Chuck E’s in Love, which may have been an attempt to get it out of the way, but which her voice wasn’t ready for yet, sadly.  By the third or fourth song, though, she was sailing.  Older voices can’t always do what younger voices did, even in the most practiced singers, but her voice still works.  She hasn’t succumbed to vocal tricks and still has the same dynamic qualities she always did.  It was a privilege to see her.
Rickie Lee Jones

It was 1979 up on the pier for most of the night, as she played pretty much every song from her debut album, a few from Pirates, and a couple of other songs.  She’d said it was going to be old school, but she has a lot of albums and barely touched on her amazing cannon.  Everyone was happy to hear Company, Weasel and the White Boys Cool was hot, and Danny’s All-Star Joint was jumping.  I was thrilled that she did Flying Cowboys, which I’d had on repeat all day and the band really got a chance to shine on that one, too.  It seemed so fitting to hear her sing about the water while we were dangling on the edge of the Pacific.

She closed the show with a beautiful song for her daughter from her latest album, Balm in Gilead, which I’d not heard, but really want to hear again.  Here it is:

The players were great, if not perfectly rehearsed and they weren’t great back-up singers, and I really wanted to hear Satellites, but, oh well.  It was Rickie Lee!  Looking and sounding great!

The new Bloomingdale's at the new Santa Monica Place Mall was there giving out free swag -- when was the last time anybody gave out swag?  (I'm having a hard time believing the mall is finished, but guess I was gone the whole two years it was closed and under construction.  I predict the new one will look as dorky in 20 years as the old Frank Gehry one they knocked down to make it, but for now, it's an improvement over the Miami Vice pink concrete slab it replaced.) We got canvas bags, orange flip flops and frisbees!

Too bad the audience couldn’t manage to be quiet, stop shuffling and talking on their cell phones.  Free concerts can be a magnet for people with nothing else to do, but I’d never had that experience at the Pier before.  A couple came kinda late, demanded to squish themselves into our space, then left early, leaving their chairs - so Tara and I scored a new camp chair each for our inconvenience.

I actually had to have a guy ejected by security, but everyone around me was pretty happy he was no longer shouting and singing and scatting and talking sh*t over Ms. Jones.  As an audience member I might have been able to put up with him, but as an artist and promoter, I thought it was hella inappropriate while there was someone on the stage.

I think I want security at all my events now.  ; )


After a last-minute run to Atwater Village to pick up furniture from Noni, who was moving, who got it from me when I moved (who got it from Diane when she moved), Alfie and I drove around in circles for a good long time before finding the place. 

The place is like kinda past the I-Hop on Figueroa on the other side.  Not too far from Lacy Street Studios if that place is still standing.

Ten potato tacos for $6.99.

I’d never heard of such a thing – ten tacos, potato tacos, the whole deal.  So we order them and out come these deep fried tacos with some green and white sauce and some cheese drizzled on top.  Inside, peppery mashed potatoes.  They are hot and greasy and potato-y and you know I have a hard time arguing with that.  Ten for the two of us left us stuffed.  You have to eat them right then and there, or they will be too gross for words.  We spread lots of hot sauce on there, too. (Somewhere there's a picture - I'll see if I can get it!)

You can live in a place a long time and there’s still things you don’t know.  Now I know about ten potato tacos!

Wow – this is my second year not being there, after two years of being there.  It’s heartbreaking, as I see all my spoken word friends from London heading down there.  (Add to that that it’s Nationals this week in the US and I’m not there either and you realize I am seriously sad!)  It’s strange seeing so many poets going, considering how hard it was in 2007 and 2008 just to get a line-up for my show, and how few other spoken word folks were there.  While it’s great to see it all picking up, it’s also hard to be looking at it from so far away.  

Maybe they’ll finally give us our own category in the programme next year.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Monday's Quote - Zap

Ah....Monday...you so dis-inspire me sometimes. Nevertheless, there is a path and we are on it and movement is good. So - here's Monday's quote:

"You have everything you need in the present situation to work with impeccability. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't work toward manifesting additional resources and opportunities. It does mean that the present situation supplies you with everything you need to take the next step." 
- Jonathan Zap, "A Guide to the Perplexed Interdimensional Traveler"

Let's take a step today.