February 2003 Archives
I finally went out to Montclair yesterday and got the tattoo I've been talking about getting for about ten years now: the brick from Krazy Kat, very small, about 3/5 of the way through a trajectory from my left hip to my right shoulder. It was quick and easy, and much less painful than I thought it'd be: the sensation at its worst was very much like electric razor burn. The brick has fairly dense personal significance to me: it's a symbol of comics (since it's from the best comic ever), & therefore appropriate to a moment in which I'm devoting myself to studying comics; it's also a symbol of communication-through-art, and the way in which the message transmitted may not be at all similar to the message received. It's also got resonances for me about the small-scale manufacture of art/culture (they're not Acme bricks--they're made by Kolin Kelly!) and finding the appropriate medium for transmitting it to its ideal audience. I used to joke that "my life is the medium through which the brick passes," actually, though now I'm more interested in being the one who makes the brick, the one who throws it, and the one who's conked on the head by it than being the Coconino County air.
Lisa did a little photodocumentary series about the process; I'll try to talk her into letting me put up a few images soonish.
My beloved recording watch's battery died yesterday morning--since I bet it can be replaced, the only hint of tragedy from the situation is that I lost a bit of audio I recorded a few weeks ago from a very enthusiastic singer on the 7 train who was hollering into an empty Snapple bottle for a mic. It ends with him emoting "Everything I do for you/And you can't do the same for me/Everything I do for you/And you can't do the same for me/AAAAAAAHHHH--"
More to say (about seeing La Boheme tonight etc.), but I am tired tired and must recharge my own batteries.
It's good for the soul to take an occasional ludicrously out-of-the-way trip to see a band play, especially when that band is the mighty Mission of Burma. Lisa, Lauren, Aileen and I took the train down to Philadelphia yesterday afternoon, went record shopping (I got the Dee Felice Trio's In Heat, a weird little lounge-jazz trio album nominally produced by James Brown back in the late '60s; Aileen stocked up), and walked over to the Theater of the Living Arts, where we met up with or ran into Jen and friend, Geeta Dayal, Maura and Joe (with whom we stayed--thank you!), Andy Comer and friends, and seemingly most of the rest of New York. The openers were Oxes, who countered Burma's semi-infamous "NO NEW McCARTHY ERA" sign with their own "NO NEW McCARTNEY ERA" and were otherwise eh.
Burma, on the other hand, were incandescent. We were standing very close to the stage, and got the full glorious effect. In the 20 minutes between the first set and the second, Bob Weston looped a couple of lines Clint Conley sang--"I'M NOT JUDGING YOU I'M JUDGING ME / NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT..."--and just left them alternating over and over, while somebody played some Captain Beefheart records over the P.A. Genius. By the second set, Lauren and I were phoning up friends' numbers with our cell phones to leave Burma-grams on their answering machines. And they encored with Brian Eno's "Seven Deadly Finns," with three-part harmonies. I really hope they put out the live album they've been talking about from this extended quasi-tour (this was their eighteenth show of a yearlong reunion)--their live sound, more than the sound of their studio recordings, is really what made them what they were and are, and Horrible Truth good as it is is not enough to sate my hunger.
Bookstore find of the weekend: Joan Wiener's 1970 Victory Through Vegetables, another of those sweet earnest early veggie cookbooks I love so much. This one has "a special selection of macrobiotic dishes by Barbara Thralls," but what made me buy it was her note on a recipe that calls for a teaspoon of MSG: "A lot of people are very down on MSG (monosodium glutamate), saying it can do funny things to your head. Personally, I have never felt any ill effects from consumption of MSG, but I thought it fair to warn you of other people's thing."
Another new limerick, incidentally.
How I was filled with hope for the younger generation and lost it again in 10 seconds: at the Ladytron show tonight, I saw a young woman with a T-shirt that said (in small black letters on a gray background):
Brilliant, I thought. Then I looked again and saw it was
What a pity.
(Didn't stay for all of Ladytron, in any case; what I'd been hoping to get out of the performance was the sense of total robotic detachment I get from their records, and they couldn't pull that off. Not that the singers were emoting or anything, but the lack-of-affect in the way they came across didn't live up to the shiny short black haircuts and Mao jackets.)
The parashah is well into the Complete Atlantic-And-Beyond Works of John Coltrane listening marathon--tonight's selections were A Love Supreme and its alternate takes. We are being ludicrously complete completists about it, to the point where I was briefly considering stopping by Tower Records today to see if I could buy the one in-print piece of the Impulse!-era discography I'm missing, Coltrane's two tracks on New Thing at Newport. (The deciding factor against: one of them is yet another goddamn version of "My Favorite Things.") We're in the period right now where pretty much everything flattens me against the wall--last night it was "Your Lady" that did it, with that unbelievable single-note bass pedal point.
I was complaining for a bit that I didn't have enough projects to work on. Foolish D. I have MORE than enough projects to work on. Currently in the hopper:
*Basic site design sketches for my practicum
*Contacting about a million people about getting files together for the practicum
*Finishing up the organization for this Friday's "transdisciplinary salon" at Columbia
*Sketching out the way the final project I'm working on for Sound/Image might be arranged
*Speaking of sketching: drawing in my sketchbook
*Finding materials for an assignment for the digital-media class
*Assembling that New Order/Joy Division set
*Making something for the ilxor variant on 20 Things
*Re-revising the piece on compression I wrote for last year's EMP conference
*Putting together a new mix CD
*Learning Final Cut Pro
*Learning Digital Performer; using it to record a particular small piece I've got in mind
*Recording some stuff with people for the dbc secret project
*Organizing the new Typical Girls compilation
*Publicizing the singles club a bit more
Anya points out that this site makes it clear that I'm an only child; I do tend to rattle on here about things that are not necessarily of interest beyond myself. But I also do it to have reference material I can reach anywhere, and sometimes (as in the present case) to shame myself into actually doing stuff.
Note to self: when going to huge protest rally, particularly huge protest rally that's going to require a whole lot of walking to get wherever it is on is going, attempt to schedule day such that one doesn't have to carry electric bass + heavy bag full of stuff everywhere. I'm doing some of the muscle-relaxation exercises I've learned in yoga, but I can practically hear my body attempting to uncrinkle itself like aluminum foil.
Some observations from the rally:
I got to 42nd St. and Lexington around 12:15--taking the 7 train in from Queens. The 7 train, around noon on a Saturday, is normally fairly empty; this one was so packed that not everyone at my station could even fit on the train.
The sidewalks of Lexington were crammed with people, virtually all of whom had some visible indication that they were going to the rally (signs, stickers, etc.). More than a few people I talked to had come from Philly or Washington, D.C. [For non-New Yorkers: the rally was on 1st Ave.; Lexington is three long blocks west of that.] We asked how we could get to the rally, and the cops at the barricades said "you need to walk up to at least 51st St. before you can get east; it might be beyond that now." By the time we'd gotten to 51st, they were saying 55th, which then became 59th, which then became 63rd, which then became 68th--but there were no barricades at Lex and 64th. (And by the time we were at Lex and 58th, the ralliers had taken over all but two lanes of traffic, too.)
I cut over to 3rd Ave. on 64th; on 3rd, the sidewalks were TOTALLY jammed, and eastward passage looked blockaded for at least a few more blocks. Everywhere there was a police barricade, there were a bunch of people saying "but how can we get to where we can see the speakers?" The answer appeared to be "you can't--there simply wouldn't be room." At that point, it was a bit after 2 PM, and I gave up and headed west and downtown to band practice.
The general mood was really heartening: "wow, there are a lot more of us than anyone thought there'd be!" I've written some harsh things about the lefty tendency toward ineffectual feel-good rallies in the past, & still believe them, but I think it was understood that this one was meant as an almost purely symbolic gesture, and an important one. Still, I was hoping for more genuinely clever or convincing slogans/signs--didn't see a lot of those. There were a couple of people I saw with face-covering masks and huge International ANSWER signs, which creeped me out. (ANSWER does that in general.)
In the evening, I headed out to North Six to see The Reputation--got to talk to Elizabeth for a while, which is always a joy, and also talked for a while with Rachel, who I hadn't seen in ages. She mentioned that she's a non-cook & was always curious to see the cooking references here. I said "look, it's really not hard at all, and it'll save you money and make you happy and healthy," and started babbling about the importance of a good knife etc. (lately my ceramic Kyocera has been the joy of my kitchen). "That's so funny," she said--"a couple of my friends have just been taking cooking classes, and they said the first class was devoted to knife skills! That just seemed strange to me." So I ended up spending probably way too long explaining the significance of cutting things into uniform chunks quickly. File under "things I take for granted and shouldn't."
New limericks up. The world collectively exhales.
Saw the Matisse/Picasso show yesterday morning at MOMAQns. Nifty and surprising--my favorite thing I hadn't seen before was Picasso's cover version of Velazquez's Las Meninas (one of a whole bunch he did, it appears)--in this one, he basically summarizes the whole thing in about twelve lines. But you can see the dialogue between Matisse and Picasso, which is nearly as lopsided as the dialogue between, say, Sam and Dave. Picasso does something and Matisse says "hmm--that's interesting, I wonder what would happen if I tried to do that." Matisse does something and Picasso says "oh, yeah, I can do that," and knocks off his own version except it's about five times as good.
Spent the evening celebrating Aileen Brophy's birthday, partly by singing karaoke. I need to spend more time in karaoke parlors, I think. Sang Prince's "Kiss," which seems to be what I sing every time I end up in one of those (although it always blows out my voice), and tried ABBA's "The Winner Takes It All." "Was that from a musical?" somebody asked me afterward. No--well, uh, yes, Mamma Mia!, but ex post facto.
We have a winner for the third photo I'll be drawing a lot over the next couple of weeks. Possibly the most evil photo of all time, yet weirdly hilarious. I showed it to Kristin, who wondered if it were an actual fashion ad. Fortunately, it's not.
It's humbling, this drawing stuff. I can't make the lines do what I want them to do. I smudge things with my hand, by accident rather than as intentional modeling. I can't judge tone value, really, at all, or at least I can't reproduce it. But Alberti has a line in On Painting about how painting is the most fun thing of all to do, because "you can spend an entire day at it and not even notice the time passing." I think I spent at least an hour and a quarter the other night sketching (that's all it was, a rough sketch) the Sriwanichpoom photo: I put on the Steinski Nothing to Fear mix, started drawing, and then eventually looked up from the page and realized that the CD had been over for a long time.
On the back door of my building's elevator area:
A few more limericks up now--this means I've taken care of all but one of the outstanding requests, and any other volunteers whose names aren't as hard to rhyme well as "Soloski" should feel free to raise a hand.
Speaking of suffixes like that: the NAJP group (del ritmos) met with Steinski today, which was pretty enlightening--he had a lot of insight into the origins of the way everything sounds on the radio now (and, as Sasha pointed out, a lot of that comes from him). This weekend looks fairly slack, aside from playing with Leela and her friends at some point. But there's a lot of reading to be done for various classes, and I'm going to try to play with Max/MSP a bit, too... which will probably eat a huge chunk of the weekend if I get sucked into it.
I'm slow to update, I know, but this has been the week where I seriously throw myself into academics, with the result that it's also been the week where other stuff I ought to deal with gets neglected and I don't sleep nearly enough. (Had to wake up very early this morning to go sign up for yoga for next semester, once again with the appropriately cruel, inspiringly limber Columbia F.) Spent a while last night learning how to use Photoshop in earnest, and putting together a rather goofy composite self-portrait for the digital media class; might put it up here eventually, if I end up liking it.
My assignment for the drawing class right now is to find and make copies of three black & white photos I love enough to draw them over and over and over for weeks. One very strong contender is this--Zero Mostel in Ionesco's Rhinoceros, in 1961. It's not the photo I clipped years ago of him in the same role (and have mentioned here before)--that was a Richard Avedon photo, and when I dug it up today after a bit of research, it was actually probably a better photo, but also very very Richard Avedon. Not sure if I can take looking at this one for that long, but I do like it a lot. Also copied a Roni Horn photo of water--though I might substitute one of the pictures from You Are the Weather. Still seeking a third contender.
Lisa's photos from the first Love Registry are (back) up, in attractive alphabetical form!
I made my first uppama yesterday morning, and despite a lot of last-second ingredient substitutions, it came out so well that we'd demolished the whole thing by mid-afternoon. Maybe a little too heavy on the stirring to make often, but I'm glad I did it. Here's how I made it, adapted from Madhur Jaffrey:
Put 1/4 cup peanut or canola oil in a big heavy nonstick pan over medium heat. When it's hot enough to pop mustard seeds, add a little asafoetida, then a teaspoon of brown mustard seeds. When they start popping, add a dried red chile and a couple of teaspoons of chana dal or yellow split peas; stir the whole thing until the peas turn reddish, which won't be long (the mustard seeds that haven't popped yet will stick, so keep 'em in motion so they don't burn). Add some curry leaves, if you've got them, stir once, and then add three tablespoons of very finely chopped red onion. Hisssss. Fry until the onion starts to brown at the edges. Add a teaspoon each of finely grated fresh ginger and, if you like it, finely chopped fresh green chile. Stir a few seconds more and add a packed cup of green cabbage shreds and a quarter-cup of peas (frozen & defrosted is fine). Hisssss. Stir for a couple of minutes, add 3 tablespoons of water, cover it, and turn it down to low for 3 or 4 minutes.
Now comes the labor-intensive part. Have 1 3/4 cups of water boiling in a kettle. Uncover the pan, turn the heat back up to medium, and add a cup of non-instant semolina or Cream of Wheat. Stir and fry it for about five minutes, until it turns golden. Turn the heat back down to low and add 3/4 teaspoon of salt. Then, over the course of five minutes, dribble in the boiling water a little at a time, and stir it until it's absorbed before adding the next dribble. After it's all been absorbed, keep stirring it & breaking up lumps until the whole thing is light and fluffy--could be as much as 10 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh cilantro, stir for another minute, turn the heat off, rest your weary arm and eat.
The limericks have moved onto a page of their own. There's a new one there, too. And yes, you're still totally welcome to send me a comment or an email and ask for yours--it might take a few days to get to, though.
Just saw Addicted2Fiction's second show (and first with Liz B. drumming): super-fun, and not much like what I expected based on their former bands. Names that came up in the "they remind me pleasantly of..." discussion included Clan of Xymox and Skinny Puppy, though there was a certain new-wave tinge to them too (underscored by the Depeche Mode & Tones On Tail covers--very nice, esp. the sample of David Gahan going "ALL RIGHT!").