June 30, 2009

Bordeaux Porn

"[A]fter six years of investigations . . . during which no element was produced that could have fed the prosecution (the specialized unit for minors and the rectorship gave a favourable opinion) and after the attorney general of Bordeaux called for a not guilty decision in march 2008 [, a judge in Bordeaux has re-opened a decade-old child porn case against curators Marie-Laure Bernadac, Henry-Claude Cousseau, and Stéphanie Moisdon] . . . for having, within the exhibition entitled 'presumed innocent- contemporary art and childhood' . . . exposed 'violent and pornographic art works.'

* * * * *
"For the first time in France, two museum directors and a curator are to be tried in a criminal court for exhibiting works of art that have already been shown throughout the world or put on view since the Bordeaux exhibition in art shows that have not elicited the least unfavorable reaction from the public. The thinking that went into preparing the incriminated exhibition, focused on a major subject of art history, was developed collectively and was shared by the relevant state oversight authorities."

(Thanks, e-flux!) I believe people in Bordeaux probably have access to the internets; since I'm showing this pic, guess they'll have to indict me, too.

Elizabeth Warren on the U.S. Middle Class Since 1970 (Screwn)

This is long but worthwhile and quite watchable. If you're willing to take her mega-qualificiations as given, you can skip the first 5 min.

June 29, 2009

Marco Brambilla: "Civilization"

HD video created with the assistance of Motionographer – go to the link for the vidi, 'cuz the still at right doesn't do it justice. The video shows an ascending or descending view between hell and heaven and was installed in an elevator, with the up or down motion of the visuals sync'd to that of the elevator. The video incorporates some 250 film clips, seamlessly looped and animated in 3-D – quite a feat.

Obama Rewards AT&T's Ed Whitacre with GM Chairmanship

Add this to the list of Obama's list of disappointing appointments (see a lengthy but not-necessarily-complete list in this previous post). Whitacre was Chair and CEO of AT&T for 17 years (see The WSJ on his appointment to the GM chairmanship and his prior career), including while it was enabling the Bush admin's warrantless spying on innocent Americans (see Wikipedia, Corrente).

Since Obama et al. previously voted to immunize the telcos from their gross violations of our rights, Mr. Whitaker is now not in jail and is available for the GM Chairmanship – how lucky is that?

June 27, 2009

I Like MJ's Final Face

Here's the best collection I've seen lately of before-and-after pics; you also get good face in the documentary referred to in my previous post; and here's someone's idea of what he might have looked like if he'd left well enough alone.

I agree, he'd have been handsome without any surgery,etc.

But I also think the face he bought is cool.

The music was great, and he understood the importance of the visual. His face was another of his creations. It may have ended up half Phantom of the Opera; but I like it. And I can't think of many besides his final face that will remain more recognizable, or more interesting, longer.

His music video masterpiece, Thriller (embedded below), now seems prescient of both his and our realities.

PS: Apparently face et al. are destined for plastination à la von Hagens – the authorities' or someone's requirement for an autopsy kibboshed MJ's first choice, cryogenic freezing – more here.

UPDATE: Apparently not; MJ's body was buried, though sans his brain, which is still undergoing analysis re- drugs, etc.; more here.

June 26, 2009

More MJ

The young MJ on the Dating Game:

Documentary with a number of interviews with MJ at age 44; here's the first segment:

Some segments seem to be being taken down, so go see them now if you're interested.

Cafeteria Wins Golden Lion at Venice Biennial

Created by Tobias Rehberger in collaboration with Artek; it is beautiful. More info and images here.


Do not stop watching bef. ca. 3.16 min., when they drag her off.

(Thanks, Kalup!)

See also my May 11 post, inspired by friends who hosted an M.J.-themed party – funny how he's been in the air – I and entourage went as M.J.'s plastic surgeons (tho' there were only 3 of us). (To be clear, I love M.J's music.)

June 24, 2009

Leading Chinese Dissident, Liu Xiaobo, Arrested over Freedom Charter

"A leading dissident who organised a charter signed by hundreds of Chinese thinkers, academics and writers calling for dramatic political and legal reforms was under arrest yesterday.

"Liu Xiaobo, a literary critic first jailed for his role in the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations, was taken from his home in Beijing late on Monday by a dozen police officers and was asked to sign a document acknowledging his detention. They searched his flat and took away three computers, mobile phones and documents, friends told The Times.

"His arrest came hours before the release on the internet of the “08 Charter”, a rare, outspoken document challenging the ruling Communist Party to grant greater freedom of expression and to hold free elections. Its publication was timed to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights today.

"A total of 303 people — from a prominent Tibetan blogger to lawyers and a disgraced former senior Communist Party official — braved possible arrest and jail to put their names to the document. . . . ."

More at the UK Times and Radio Free Asia.

June 22, 2009

Disappearing in Iran (or Wherever)

Darth Vader helmets and all.

"Tehran 21 Jun 09. Man filming is cursing the basijis quietly."


This is cool.

June 21, 2009

Fun Doc Coming on Jimmy Kuehnle's Work

See the "UPDATE" here.

I continue to be amazed at the quality of work that was included in Fusebox 2009.

New Adam Curtis Project: "It Felt Like a Kiss"

This is the guy who made the BBC documentaries, Century of the Self (see my previous post on Century here) and The Trap (they don't provide a working embed "in [my] area," so the image at right is just a screen grab). Contrary to the UK Guardian reviewer's hype (I'm sure he was trying to help), Curtis is not i.m.h.o. mad, merely brilliant; I liked Century so much I bought copies to give to friends. Here's more from the same reviewer on Curtis' new work, It Felt Like A Kiss:

Except it isn't just a documentary. It's also a piece of interactive theatre, with music composed by Damon Albarn and performed by the Kronos Quartet. And it doesn't take place in a cinema or concert hall, but across five floors of a deserted office block in Manchester.

. . . . After a struggle, Curtis himself says it's "a psycho-political theme experience in which you become a central character. It's going to be frightening. A walk of enchantment and menace." On the official website, viewers are advised that it's "not suitable for those of a nervous disposition". "Please wear suitable footwear," it adds, ominously.

* * * * *
But where his preceding works have occasionally been a touch eccentric, this one . . . is completely and utterly demented – in a positive way. . . .

And the editing. . . . The marriage of Phil Spector's wall of sound and Curtis's wall of images is so perfect, so strange and striking, it jangled around my head for hours afterward. . . . It'll probably kill people.

* * * * *
From now on, all of Curtis's work will be produced first and foremost for the internet. It will be hosted at bbc.co.uk/adamcurtis (coming soon). An hour-long cut of the whole thing will be placed on the site on the last day of the Manchester International Festival (MIF). It will also host his next two projects . . . .
Much more at the UK Guardian (thanks, Randy!) PS: This sounds at least somewhat anticipated by GuruGuru by Rotozaza (see my previous post here), who confirmed to me that they were influenced by Century of the Self and The Trap.

You can buy Century here. The Trap seems at least somewhat less available. As of this writing, you could watch all of Century and The Trap on YouTube – in segments, but the segments weren't all labelled so as to make the sequence totally obvious. So here's a list of links to the segments, in case it's helpful:
The Trap - Episode 1 - F**k You Buddy

1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DyyMv2e7giQ&feature=related
2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRiHf6uVWsc&feature=related
3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WHMDn2VdBc&feature=related
4. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-L2FPEiAQc&feature=related
5. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0916qGs8QM&feature=related
6. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDPKqHKtN6k&feature=related

The Trap - Episode 2 - The Lonely Robot

1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJwyOzk7YhA&feature=related
2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uv_515-cpFY&feature=related
3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMw4ISOK2nU&feature=related
4. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rg3JtjNIVE&feature=related
5. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNyIo-lfLdk&feature=related
6. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5vTODv_rGU&feature=related

The Trap - Episode 3 - We Will Force You to Be Free

1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNZ28na7ksY&feature=related
2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WV_LmK7_kxo&feature=related
3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-f-_JlI1Ck4&feature=related
4. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edOLc21YP-U&feature=related
5. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0RoN9BpBY0&feature=related
6. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1bjQYk9sIE&feature=channel_page

Century of the Self - Episode 1 - Happiness Machines

1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3LSyck0YTE&feature=related
2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEsbK_srqrU&feature=related
3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0JHRgREYTc&feature=related
4. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jKlTnxJVs8&feature=related
5. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcBW4go0U6s&feature=related
6. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cp6M3A6vBZk&feature=related

Century of the Self - Episode 2 - The Engineering of Consent

1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrpC7b68prQ&feature=related
2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_B_eWZfUa0&feature=related
3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBrF7jbbRyc&feature=related
4. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBgLsOfIZ8Q&feature=related
5. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJtRRddC5rs&feature=related
6. (I found no 6th segment as of this writing; not sure if there is one.)

Century of the Self - Episode 3 - There Is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads: He Must Be Destroyed

1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IYyGai8n6Q&feature=related
2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efE5qYqBCKQ&feature=related
3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CUXQTk5YBM&feature=related
4. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGpOjoBhPko&feature=related
5. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpRQET-5PoU&feature=related
6. (I found no 6th segment as of this writing; not sure if there is one.)

Century of the Self - Episode 4 - Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering

1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXiS9m-qW0g&feature=related
2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7DMsVvxtsw&feature=related
3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9IfiW9YQ6s&feature=related
4. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGlnABuujxM&feature=related
5. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNxq4OZXUVM
6. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWAu_NOVMW0&feature=related

UPDATE: Curtis's own, updated website with Century and other docs in many fewer parts (like, 4 instead of 24) is up! Start Century here.

Tan the Man. But . . .

he looks more pink than tan – I hope his lifetime exposure otherwise is low.

When I was a teen, people didn't understand the dangers of over-exposure; by the time I was 30, enough was known that I started wearing a hat while swimming. So I'd like to imagine there's something here about time, progress, generations, etc., as well as burning and exposure, in addition to the seemingly whimsical shapes.

More here.

Hodgeman, Partly Wasted on Corp. Media Types.

Brilliant and hilarious; but disappointing that he made no substantive critique. You go, Sykes.

(Thanks, Ben!)

June 18, 2009

City Requires Job Seekers' Facebook & Other Passwords

Just makin' sure you all saw this:

"Bozeman City, Montana now asks all applicants for jobs to 'Please list any and all, current personal or business websites, web pages or memberships on any Internet-based chat rooms, social clubs or forums, to include, but not limited to: Facebook, Google, Yahoo, YouTube.com, MySpace, etc.' . . . . There are then three lines where applicants can list the Web sites, their user names and log-in information and their passwords."

Via boingboing; more at Montana's News Station.

June 17, 2009

"Twitter Users Heckle Hoekstra En Masse"

From TalkingPointsMemo
By Eric Kleefeld - June 17, 2009, 6:01PM

Earlier today, Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) put up this astonishing post on Twitter, likening the oppression of the Iranian people to the plight of House Republicans:
Iranian twitter activity similar to what we did in House last year when Republicans were shut down in the House.
In the hours since, the Twitter community has responded -- with massive heckling. Here's just a small sample of some of the best ones:
ArjunJaikumar @petehoekstra i spilled some lukewarm coffee on myself just now, which is somewhat analogous to being boiled in oil

chrisbaskind @petehoekstra My neighbor stopped me to talk today. Now I know what it is like to be questioned by the Basij!

luckbfern @petehoekstra I stand in solidarity with the oppressed rich white men of Repub Party in the House. #GOPfail Allah Akbar!

aciolino @petehoekstra Today I poked my finger on a hanger. Now I know what all those aborted babies go through.

ceedub7 @petehoekstra I got a splinter in my hand today. Felt just like Jesus getting nailed to the cross.

netw3rk @petehoekstra Someone walked in on me while I was in the bathroom. Reminded me of Pearl Harbor.

MattOrtega Walked out onto Constitution Ave in D.C. and was almost hit by a taxi. Reminded me of Tienanmen Square.

tharodge @petehoekstra maybe now is a good time to reconsider whether you are ready for national politics?

TahirDuckett @petehoekstra ran through the sprinklers this morning, claimed solidarity with victims of Hurricane Katrina

paganmist @petehoekstra Had to move all my stuff to a new office w/o a corner view. Now i know what the Trail of Tears was like. #GOPfail

June 16, 2009

No Soul for Sale

This sounds cool: a "Festival of Independents," June 24 - 28, 2009, at X INITIATIVE, 548 W. 22nd St., New York

" . . . will bring together [38 of] the most exciting, creative and respected not-for-profit centers, alternative institutions, artists' collectives and independent enterprises from around the world that contribute to the international art scene by inventing new strategies for the distribution of information and by supporting a diverse cultural program.

". . . . The participants will be allowed to show whatever they choose, be it art, performances, publications, videos, or simply themselves. In addition to the exhibition space, X will make available to each participant, for a one-hour period, a dedicated performance area on the ground floor in which participants can organize performances, presentations, discussions and music programs.

"Neither a fair nor an exhibition, NO SOUL FOR SALE is a convention of individuals and groups who have devoted their energies to keeping art alive. The Festival will be an exercise in coexistence: organizations will exhibit alongside each other without partitions or walls. As on the set of the legendary Lars von Trier's movie Dogville, participants will be assigned spaces that are only marked on the floor, creating a map of an imaginary city of art, where distances and hierarchies are abolished."
More at X.


(Thanks, snarky!)

June 15, 2009


"It took just 10 minutes for a dozen prairie dogs to outwit the creators of the Maryland Zoo's new $500,000 habitat. . . . Aircraft wire, poured concrete and slick plastic walls proved no match for the fast-footed rodents, the stars of a new exhibit that opens today.

* * * * *

"Zookeepers had to bring out the nets to catch the escapees.

"'They find all the weak spots and exploit them,' said Karl Kranz, the zoo's vice president for animal programs and chief operating officer." More at the Baltimore Sun.

As Robert Frost put it, Something there is that doesn’t love a wall . . . .

June 14, 2009

Banksy Exhibition in His Home Town,

installed without blowing his cover(?):

June 12, 2009

Two Japanese Carrying $134 Billion in US Bonds Detained

"Thursday 11th June, 06:18 AM JST

"Two Japanese nationals were detained by Italian financial police last week after trying to enter Switzerland with $134 billion worth of undeclared U.S. bonds, mostly Treasury bonds, an Italian daily said Wednesday. . . ."

More at Japan Today; and some helpful analysis at Blue Sky Sunshine. The two men were also carrying a considerable amount of "original bank documents." It should be mentioned, it's uncertain at this point whether they're really Japanese.

Speculation's rampant (about this incident, that is; you knew it's rampant elsewhere). The main theories seem to be: (1) China and Japan hold large amounts of US bonds, and one of them is nervous about the dollar and want to unload the bonds without panicking other holders or depressing the price – an interpretation that bodes ill for the US economy – but per Bloomberg, "[i]f the notes are genuine, the pair would be the U.S. government’s fourth-biggest creditor, ahead of the U.K. with $128 billion of U.S. debt and just behind Russia, which is owed $138 billion"; (2) they're fake, possibly counterfeited by North Korea, and the Italians happened to stumble across a really ambitious counterfeiting operation (but not the most ambitious; apparently a similar, much larger attempt's been busted before) – and the counterfeiters could have been trying to capitalize on the current plausibility of alternative (1), an interpretation that also does not bode well for the US economy; and (3) it relates to ill-gotten gains or tax evasion (considered least likely; the amount's too big).

Another theory notes ties between the Bush family and the Yakuza, Japanese crime syndicates with a significant Korean constituency. For now, I think I vote for alternative (2) above.

As jberryhill said, "Dang . . . NOW I know what happened to my luggage."

As proteus_lives said, "They f---ed up a deal worth $134 billion!?! Sepukku time."

UPDATE: See Denninger, inferring that the circumstances suggest the bonds are real and represent off-book issuances by the U.S. to the Japanese or Chinese. This keeps getting odder.

FURTHER UPDATE: Per Bloomberg, according to Colonel Rodolfo Mecarelli of the Guardia di Finanza in Como, Italy, the securities were purportedly issued in 1934. "The seized notes include 249 securities with a face value of $500 million each and 10 additional bonds with a value of more than $1 billion, the police force said on its Web site. Such high denominations would not have existed in 1934, the purported issue date of the notes, Mecarelli said. Moreover, the 'Kennedy' classification of the bonds doesn’t appear to exist, he said. . . . Mecarelli said he expects a determination from the SEC “'within a few days.'”

The bonds were seized on June 3; I'm writing this on June 18; so we're over 2 weeks in and the Feds haven't yet confirmed whether these bonds in the highest denominations ever issued – some allegedly never issued – are the real thing?

FURTHER FURTHER UPDATE: Per the WSJ, the Feds say the bonds are fake.

FURTHER FURTHER FURTHER UPDATE: I understand that per a Japanese publication, Mainichi Shimbun (translated at cryptogon), the two Japanese men involved have been released by Italian authorities without being charged with any crime –– curiouser and curiouser.

Female Adapter

I'm pretty sure this is an improvement.

June 10, 2009

Genetically Modified Foods

This is not my usual issue, but I feel compelled to share this article by Jeffrey M. Smith at Seeds of Deception. I hadn't realized that, when they say GM'd foods are "resistant" to insects, what they really mean is that the plants have been engineered to produce food that's literally chock full o' poison. Salient points (out of order per the original article):

"GM corn and cotton are engineered to produce their own built-in pesticide in every cell. When bugs bite the plant, the poison splits open their stomach and kills them. Biotech companies claim that the pesticide, called Bt—produced from soil bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis—has a history of safe use, since organic farmers and others use Bt bacteria spray for natural insect control. Genetic engineers insert Bt genes into corn and cotton, so the plants do the killing.

"The Bt-toxin produced in GM plants, however, is thousands of times more concentrated than natural Bt spray, is designed to be more toxic,[10] has properties of an allergen, and unlike the spray, cannot be washed off the plant.

* * * * *
["Not a single human clinical trial on GMOs has been published", but] "[w]hen GM soy was fed to female rats, most of their babies died within three weeks—compared to a 10% death rate among the control group fed natural soy.[3] The GM-fed babies were also smaller, and later had problems getting pregnant.[4] When male rats were fed GM soy, their testicles actually changed color—from the normal pink to dark blue.[5] Mice fed GM soy had altered young sperm.[6] Even the embryos of GM fed parent mice had significant changes in their DNA.[7]"

* * * * *
"Scientists at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had warned about all these problems even in the early 1990s. . . . [T]he scientific consensus at the agency was that GM foods were inherently dangerous, and might create hard-to-detect allergies, poisons, gene transfer to gut bacteria, new diseases, and nutritional problems. They urged their superiors to require rigorous long-term tests.[27] But the White House had ordered the agency to promote biotechnology and the FDA responded by recruiting Michael Taylor, Monsanto’s former attorney, to head up the formation of GMO policy. . . . Mr. Taylor later became Monsanto’s vice president.

* * * * *
"There is a pocket Non-GMO Shopping Guide, . . . which is available as a download . . . ."
(Please see the original article at the link above for the footnotes and much more.)

Wild Thang, I Think I Love You

As a palate-cleanser après Kitty Wigs, from a post at KittyWittgenstein; as the author put it: "Pillow-fighting, bikini-wearing Princess Leias" (click on the image to enlarge).

I note all the pillow tags are still on – that's Leia for you; or maybe someone planned to return them?

June 9, 2009

June 8, 2009

News Re- China,

thanks to a friend there who alerted me to it:

China Requires Censoring on New PCs
By Andrew Jacobs
June 8, 2009

BEIJING — China has issued a sweeping directive requiring all personal computers sold in the country to include sophisticated software that can filter out pornography and other “unhealthy information” from the Internet.

The software, which manufacturers must install on all new PCs starting July 1, would allow the government to regularly update computers with an ever-changing list of banned Web sites.
Per my friend, blogspot is among the sites already blocked. More at the NYT.

This is of course, to a degree, happening elsewhere, as big corp.-owned ISP's simply make it slower/more expensive to access non-favored web pages.

June 6, 2009

For a Better Mood,

try this:

It helped me. Don't forget to go rate it up.

Kalup Linzy's "Keys to Our Heart"

He's got 'em.

This video (24:06 min.; 2008) was commissioned by Prospect.1 New Orleans and was also shown at the Fusebox Festival. The production is in a lush, vintage-y black and white and seems more polished than Linzy's earlier work; perhaps he's gotten comfortable that by now we know better than to take his work at face value.

Keys is an example of what I might call "quasi-narrative." There's a clear plot line, but various aspects of the piece subvert any "willing suspension of disbelief" or other inclination to relate to the piece as a conventional story.

The plot involves two entangled love triangles. Linzy, a black male, plays Lily, a lesbian with a jaded world-view. She and Dina (also black) are best friends who had sex once long ago. Now Dina has a boyfriend, John Jay (white or mixed), who treats her well. But Dina's been rebuffing him, sexually and otherwise; she and Lily exult in being "bitches." Lily advises the suffering John Jay that Dina will never love him unless he starts treating her badly, acting like an "asshole." John Jay distrusts Lily, but her words ring true. He confides in Sally Sue (white), who's friends with all of them. Sally Sue defends Dina to John Jay, and also goes to Dina to warn her that she could lose him. Dina starts to take Sally Sue's warning to heart, but while dithering, allows herself to be seduced into having sex with Lily again. Meanwhile, John Jay decides to give up on Dina and starts wooing Sally Sue. Dina resolves to approach John Jay to try to reconcile, but accidentally catches him having sex with Sally Sue. Lily then tricks the other three characters into meeting for a showdown in which Dina is confronted with the fact of John Jay's new relationship and Lily reveals that she and Dina have had sex twice and proclaims her love for Dina. Dina writes John an empathetic letter acknowledging her failure to appreciate him and seeking reconciliation. John Jay writes an empathetic letter back suggesting she'd probably be happier in a relationship with Lily.

As in much or most of his other work, in Keys Linzy himself plays one of the lead female roles and dubs in the voices of all the characters. The lines are spoken excessively slowly and enunciated excessively clearly, with an intonation that's at once overdramatic yet declamatory and slightly dead; and the voices themselves, other than Linzy/Lily's, sound completely unnatural. The weirdness of the dubbing lends an air of farce or surreality. (Trailer below; this is not the whole piece.)

Linzy's script is funny – my non-art-pro girlfriend LoL'd – and also odd. Most of the dialogue consists in the characters' explicating their own or others' inner motivations with more fluency than Woody Allen, in Oprah-esque pop psychological terms. And apart from a few clichés that are heavily repeated throughout the piece (discussed below), the characters' lines sometimes seem oddly literal or direct, sometimes almost robotic – e.g., here's John Jay, initiating his seduction of Sally Sue (in Linzy's unnaturally low, overly-enunciated voice): "Since you're single and have no boyfriend, I thought a late lunch with a male friend would serve you well."

The metaphor of "the key(s)" to [one or more persons'] "heart(s)" is used liberally throughout the script, and the characters are repeatedly referred to in terms of two, contrasting sets of stock types, one positive and one negative. Sally Sue announces the positive set: Lily is the "Queen," Dina is the "Princess," John Jay is a "good man," and Sally Sue is the "Sweetheart." Lily/Linzy proclaims the characters' negative identities: she and Dina are "Bitches," Sally Sue is the "Slut," and John Jay the "Queen of Assholes."

And the characters are often presented in an exaggerated, parodic style, as if intended to represent extremes of good and evil. But both sets of labels are shown to be over-simplifications. "Queen" Lily is played by an apparent drag queen – is Linzy sending up these stereotypes while at the same time reminding us of the extent to which they're often true – though perhaps not in the way we expected? In fact, the characters are neither good nor evil; the actions of all seem at bottom determined by self-interest, but the characters all also show compassion for their friends. Lily's manner of speaking generally seems the bitchiest, but the truths she delivers prove helpful to all.

The heavy-handed repetition of stereotypic labels and of the "keys" motif may in part be a reference to old soap opera scripts. Another soap opera-ish element in Keys is the use of stock dramatic or cinematic devices. These include the climactic scene in which all characters are brought together by Lily for the all-is-revealed! showdown. As usual in soaps, however, it turns out that all was not actually revealed; further insight comes through subsequent segments that deploy the stock device in which we see a character write a letter while we hear it read in voiceover – and one suspects any sequel would offer still further surprises. And then, of course, there's the soap-y organ music.

The lovingly detailed costumes and certain aspects of the sets invoke the 50's, while most of the music is Depression-era (the piece opens with Lily lip-syncing to a delightful 1930's recording by Lil Johnson of Get 'Em From the Peanut Man (Hot Nuts) (more on that below). And in one brief scene, as a fully-suited John Jay exits a door, Linzy speeds up the footage, giving it a Chaplin-esque look I associate with the 1920's.

The vintage accoutrements throw into relief aspects of the piece that may be common enough in recent decades but seem weird within the vintage-y frame:
• As mentioned, the characters spend much of their time pop psychologizing.

• The dialogue is larded with "foul" language in quantities difficult to imagine in anything other than a modern production (bitch, pussy, bullshit, fuck, etc.) – esp. coming from characters wearing ties or white gloves. The grammar's also off, in "modern" ways.

• One scene shows doggy-style sex in the kitchen; and no qualms are suffered regarding extramarital sex.

• The casting seems "color blind"; and miscegenation is a total non-issue.

• An open lesbian, played by a transvestite, seduces a repressed lesbian. Lesbianism per se and the concept of committed, long-term lesbian relationships are accepted non-issues.
At the same time, some of these aspects (e.g., the psychobabble, perhaps the color-blind casting, and the foul language – how long has Southpark been on?) are themselves already verging on cliché.

Linzy's mash-up of vintages operates to distance us from the conventionalities in which we're immersed today. The soap-opera and vintage frames give us poke and a wink, prompting us both to laugh and to reflect not so much on what we've inherited from earlier decades as on what we've done with it lately.

At bottom, however, part of what makes this piece so appealing is that, even if Linzy's intentions are parodic, his work is full of love. The weird or parodic aspects do distance us from the characters and their story, but one strongly suspects that Linzy feels genuine affection not only for the vintage and soap opera elements he deploys but also for pop psychology, foul language, color-blindness, etc., as well as people in general. To the extent Keys is parody, it seems to be parodying our present as well as old soaps, but it also seems to be loving both.

What ARE the keys to our hearts? We hear truth in Sally Sue's sentiment that "if you want to have a sweetheart, you have to have a heart that is sweet." Or do you? One suspects John Jay's suggestion is correct that the two "bitches," Lily and Dina, hold the keys to one another's hearts; sweetness may be key for John Jay and Sally Sue but not for Lily and Dina. And compatible sexual orientation proves the sine qua non for all.

There's been some interesting confusion in writings about this piece regarding the title. Is it key to our hearts, keys to our hearts, or keys to our heart? The last is correct, suggesting that perhaps we all share one great heart, but the key for each of us is unique: another cliché we can both smile at and appreciate.

Keys may also be an example of a trend I've observed in which artists import or export material from the past into the present or vice versa, in the process transforming both. I recently came across Dieter Roelstraete's discussions of a "historiographic turn" in art (see e-flux here, citing Mark Godfrey’s essay “The Artist as Historian,” published in [e-flux?] in October 120 (2007), and here). I was excited to find Roelstraete's articles, found them brilliant, and think he nails many important points.

But Roelstraete laments "contemporary art’s inability 'to grasp or even look at the present, much less to excavate the future,'” and adds, "our inability to . . . imagine the future seems structurally linked with the enthusiasm shared by so many artists for digging up various obscure odds and ends dating from a more or less remote, unknowable past—and the more unknowable the past in question, the deeper the pathological dimension of this melancholy, retrospective gaze."

Much of the video and other new media-based work I've seen in recent years seems to be within or relate to this historiographic trend, e.g. (you may have to search the pages at the following links for the artist's name), Matthew Barney (Drawing Restraint 13), Michael Bell-Smith (Battleship Potemkin), Guy Ben Ner (Berkeley's Island), Matt Marello (Sitcoms), Andrea Fraser (her "museum" pieces, e.g., here), Simon Martin (Wednesday Afternoon and Carlton), Steve Reinke (Hobbit Love is the Greatest Love), Laura Paperina (Joseph Kosuth versus Matthew Barney, et al. {and keep clicking "next" for a while}), R. Luke DuBois (State of the Union Address, and keep clicking next for a while), Airan Kang (and keep clicking next for a while), Shana Moulton (her Whispering Pines series), and Erica Eyres (The Male Epidemic).

I believe at least some of these artists are in fact using the past to illuminate the present, in the hope of improving the future. Maybe not an excavation of the future; maybe just an invitation to all of us to help create it in a more conscious way.

Lyrics to Get 'Em From the Peanut Man (Hot Nuts)
Recorded by Lil Johnson
Probably by Georgia White
Recording of March 4, 1936; from Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order, Vol. 1 (1929-1936) (Document DOCD-5307).
Sellin' nuts, hot nuts, anybody here want to buy my nuts?
Sellin' nuts, hot nuts, I've got nuts for sale
Selling one for five, two for ten,
If you buy 'em once, you'll buy 'em again
Sellin' nuts, hot nuts, you buy 'em from the peanut man

Nuts, hot nuts, anybody here want to buy my nuts?
Sellin' nuts, hot nuts, I've got nuts for sale
They tell me your nuts is mighty fine,
But I bet your nuts isn't hot as mine
Sellin' nuts, hot nuts, you buy 'em from the peanut man

* * * * *
More here.

UPDATE: Just found a great interview of Linzy at, of course, Interview, by Chan Marshall. Linzy names Meryl Streep, Lynn Whitfield, Kim Wayans, and Ashton Kutcher as actors he'd like to work with, then says, "I’m trying to imagine them in the context of my work, which is a little difficult. But . . . [s]ometimes people are good-enough actors that they can transform themselves into something kind of kitschy." The new John Waters? Later he mentions, "I definitely want to do a [soap-ish] TV series at some point." YEAH!

Karaoke at an Eyebeam Mixer --

what could be better? Tues., June 16 & Sat., June 20. Wish I were there; I'd be getting my name on the list early. More info here.

June 4, 2009

The Hippie Temptation


These events at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, sound fun:

Flesh Car Crash
THURSDAY, JULY 2, 7-10pm
For Flesh Car Crash, members of OJO will split into two groups, each of which will pack into a small car. Once there, they will make music both by utilizing objects and materials in the cars' interiors and by playing instruments powered by the cars' batteries. Audience members will be invited to assist with the composition. The cars will dance, glide, and narrowly miss each other in a choreographed game of chicken. The finale should be explosive!

Interactive Lecture Series
For this collective's final Engagement Party event, OJO, along with special guests as well as members of the audience, will create an abnormal lecture experience. Presenting talks on various topics, members of OJO will take up position beside the lectern as the house band, using audio trickery to affect the audience's reception of live speech. Focusing on specific words and phrases in order to induce listeners to react in all sorts of ways, their interventions should lead to a chaotic and memorable lecture.
More at MoCA. How about a "directed acting" gig where we divide the crowd into factions in a mock gummint and a mock electorate, and have them shout p.o.v.'s at each other? Of course the script would need a delicate hand, but I think I could handle that . . . .

Hardware Store Offers Job to W. as a "Greeter"

"We're confident that your experience working in your own family business, as well as your people skills developed throughout years of meeting with foreign dignitaries, would make you an excellent candidate . . . . " Elliott's Hardware is possibly Dallas's biggest, best hardware store, and it's just 7 mis. from the ex-Prez's new home. (See the offer letter Elliott's actually sent him here.)

And better that than working as a masseuse.

June 3, 2009

From "Network" (1976)

Movie info at IMDB.

Update on the Economy

"US business bankruptcies rise 40 per cent in May
3 Jun 2009, 0716 hrs IST, REUTERS

"NEW YORK: US business bankruptcy filings jumped 40 percent in May from a year ago as the sluggish US economy pushed more businesses into the red, a bankruptcy data provider said on Tuesday."
More here. (Funny how you have to go to India Times for the facts about bankruptcies in the U.S.)

Fed Oversight

Saw this a while ago; shoulda published it then; it's still good.

June 2, 2009

Badder Homes and Gardens

My new favorite other blog – esp. Nikki's posts – just go see it, here.


Could Be Fun: the Embassy of Piracy

at the next Venice Biennale, billing itself as "the largest embassy in the world."

"KOPIMI-TV.S03E03: THE.CURATOR," is cool (here; and if that doesn't work, try here); though I can't help being reminded of Uso Justo, which I wrangled for the Dallas Video Fest. in 2006 and have to say I liked even better; but The.Curator does address the curatorial problem, which is major and growing, esp. in this internetted era; plus maybe it was more of an off-the-cuff effort?

June 1, 2009

Netherlands Returns to Paper Ballots

"'We Do Not Trust Voting Computers' set out to ensure that the election process in our country would once again become as fraud resistant as it was before the advent of paperless voting computers. And that is what we got. On September 27, 2007 the Election Process Advisory Commission issued its 'Voting with confidence' report. The State Secretary for the Interior immediately announced that the 'Regulation for approval of voting machines 1997' will be withdrawn. On October 1, 2007 the District Court of Amsterdam decertified all Nedap voting computers currently in use in The Netherlands. The court order is a result of an administrative law procedure started by 'We do not trust voting computers' in March 2007. On October 21, 2007 the 'Regulation for approval of voting machines 1997' was finally withdrawn.

"On May 16, 2008 the Dutch government decided that elections in the Netherlands will be held using paper ballots and red pencil only. A proposal to develop a new generation of voting computers was rejected."

More here.