This was a harder month, for sure. Without going into detail, a family tragedy took the P and I back to the US for a couple of weeks rather abruptly and suddenly. Despite the sad occasion, it was touchingly lovely being back for the first time in a bit, and at the height of a balmy, classic American summer. Cheeseburgers! Root beer floats! Family and friends! And my birthday.
Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Preface to these 12 posts, here.
Despite the fact that much of my Italian riviera reverie was funded, what little money I had still found a way to disappear there, anyway (shocking, I know!), and I despaired of getting to go anywhere again for awhile. Bu-u-t, it turned out, that the Berlin that I’d avoided for so long because I thought it would be expensive turned out not to be, so the P and I went up there around Easter, where everything I rambled about and documented here finally became irresistibly, accessibly, clear to me for the first time.
(doing my best Travolta strut somewhere in Mitte. Minivans! Shorts with socks! TV Towers! Yeah!)
Meanwhile, back in Prague, the lovely Angela invited the P and I on what was described as an “A Line Pub Crawl”, which was at times more like a scavenger hunt, as certain metro stops on Prague’s A metro line didn’t have anything resembling a pub, so as the night wore on and the crawlers thinned out or became incapacitated, it became more and more difficult to even find a venue. (We joined rather late, so we didn’t get the full brunt of the punishment). I’m not much of a beer drinker, but I do like a nice random adventure, and the evening turned out to be exactly, wonderfully, that. And again: this whole “friends” thing? Having people to do something–anything–with? It’s something to always appreciate. And I appreciate Angela for so many reasons for this. This woman is the consummate hostess/sheep-wrangler: really excellent about inviting, organizing, fun-making in many, many ways.
Well folks, Chatsilog is up and running which is nice, and the holidays are upon us, which is nice. Christmas and New Years the P and I will be out of Prague, then back again for a bit in January, and then I leave again in mid-January for a few months, so things are about to get a little hectic. This week, I’ll post some recent photos and stray GHOTCZs, for your entertainment.
First off, I’ve been working on a photo book, which I’ll be publishing via Lulu: don’t know that it will be print-ready for Christmas, but I’ll keep you updated as to when it’s available and where you can order it:
This publication may be of no use to anyone besides me and 3 other people, but that’s probably enough for now. For those who may have missed it earlier in the year and who could use some clarification, you may enjoy going back and reading this post or viewing these photos.
Anyway, I’m all fired up about yet another photo series I’ve just begun, at present titled “Worst Souvenirs of Prague” or “Poorly-Crafted Matryoshka Dolls” or some such. Haven’t quite got the title down, but the subject matter speaks for itself.
In my estimation, they’re not so much bad as good, of course. (And what is value, anyway? Go ask Robert Pirsig.) Mediocre souvenirs are a dime a dozen: I’m a rather exacting connoisseur, so it takes a lot to impress me. What I think I’ve identified that I enjoy so much about the novelty matryoshka dolls are these factors:
1. They’re incredibly poorly-made. Like slapdash, someone’s-mentally-ill-cousin-chained-in-a-basement-closet-made-these, poorly-made. The art brut aspect fascinates me.
2. Sloppy geography. Matryoshka dolls are not really a Prague thing: they’re a Russian thing, but are still lumped into that generally fuzzy touristic-geographical category of post-Eastern Bloc whatevercloseenough.
3. Surrealist Dinner Party. They’re often grouped indiscriminately, which is how you end up with Che Guevara next to Obama and Berlusconi but below Dirty Dancing and Madonna but above Kate&Will. It’s a lot like the way I used to love going to Longs Drugs in Oakland and finding the rubber dragons next to the american flags next to the japanese bread crumbs next to the Tupperware next to the hot dog stand. Juxtaposition makes everything fun and new again!
4. They’re disposable indicators of culture. which makes it really fun when they become passé. There’s something very poignant and abject about the matryoshkas that have outlived their relevance, and go on sale: the P just bought a set of discounted Cleveland Cavaliers nesting dolls (LeBron James edition), as a bittersweet remembrance of what might have been. And I just got John Kerry, at 80% off! (I almost bought John McCain too, but the dolls nesting inside him were not more sad John McCains or Sarah Palins, but rather, a rogue’s gallery of Former Great Republicans, which was neither desirable nor abject enough).
Poor John Kerry.
One of the other nice things about living in Prague is its proximity to lots of other wonderful places, like Berlin. This whole “being in another country in one quick train ride” thing is pretty incredible.
I put off going to Berlin for over 9 months for no apparent reason (ok, time and money): despite everyone and their uncle telling me to go, I couldn’t quite justify it, somehow. Once the P and I finally got there this past spring, however, it was like my whole world made sense again. I felt more energized and inspired and excited than I’d felt in quite a while.
Much as I enjoy Prague, I’ve come to the fundamental conclusion that there’s not much magnetism here for me, creatively speaking. It’s not that Prague is inherently bad for this: hell, there are hordes of creatives here who find it utterly inspiring. It’s just not working for me. (Yet.) Over the past year, I’ve had crisis after crisis about why I can’t make things here, and it just seems to come down to an energy mismatch. I don’t blame Prague, but I also don’t blame myself (anymore) for not feeling energized creatively here, despite the ample time and space I’ve had here to Make Important Things.
At first, I just thought I was a failure, and something must be deeply wrong with me, for months. I didn’t realize that maybe it wasn’t quite as simple/harsh as this until I got out, and started spending more time elsewhere where I was energized and inspired. Certainly the residency in Italy was great: gorgeous surroundings, great company, a directive to make things. A little conservative, to be sure (Italy, not the residency), but creative and vibrant, indubitably. But then I got back from Italy, and fell apart all over again in Prague. No creative mojo, no nothing. Enter: Berlin.
I’ll try not to rhapsodize about the same things that everyone likes about Berlin: mostly, I’ll just say that it’s a deep feeling of recognition. I feel more myself when I’m there than anywhere else I’ve been in Europe. Which is kind of a strange, quasi-narcissistic reason to like a place, actually, but lemme tell you, when you’ve been a fish out of water for an extended period of time, it feels unbelievably great to be able to swim again.
I was rambling on and on to some folks here about how great Berlin is recently, when I saw a familiar, pained expression come across my German friend’s face. She said wistfully and diplomatically, “Everyone loves Berlin.” In that dot-dot-dot way which made me wonder. I kept thinking about that moment, because I recognized in it a similar (if far grouchier) sentiment I express whenever someone is going on and on about how cool New York is. It’s not that New York isn’t cool. I just get super-tired of hearing people ramble on about how great it is, ad nauseam, when it’s not the only great city in the US.
But I have to concede that the things that to me are genuinely appealing about places like Berlin (or New York, I guess) are also the same things I love about the urban Bay Area, and certainly other cities, as well: Diversity. A kind of no-nonsense cosmopolitanism. Insane creative energy. Feminist/ queer/ people of color with recognized strength and voice. Anarchic decadence. World-class cultural institutions. An mouth-watering variety of ethnic food options. Dirty old vintage stuff for sale. Freak flags flying proudly. An insistent, energetic hum in the air.
Like attracts like, so I suppose it’s no big shocker that I’m attracted to the things that feel familiar to me, being such a product of Bay Area culture, myself. What’s so thrilling about Berlin, however, is seeing these things as unfamiliar variations, with completely different historical and political underpinnings. And so, after many months of feeling a constant, quiet isolation in Prague, I’ve loved that I feel like I’m able to relax, unfold and expand myself when I’m in Berlin. I get bigger. My energy gets bigger. I want to feel, do, make things again. It’s that good.
After that initial spring revelation, I made 2 more Berlin trips over the summer with visiting friends, and each trip only reinforced its spell over me.
I’m going back up in a couple of weeks, as a bunch of my Manila friends are going to be there for a show. It doesn’t take much of an arm-twist to get me there, but that’s about as once-in-a-blue-moon, damn-fine a reason as any.
Sigh. There’s something about getting a new passport that makes me a little sad. A decade, in border stamps and short-term visas, now invalid. A photo that’s me, ten years younger. I just got mine processed at the U.S. Embassy here in Prague, which was decidedly more pleasant and painless than getting it done in SF.
At least they let you keep the old one as a memento, albeit with holes punched through it.
It seems that in any passport I’m issued, however, my photo will always make me look like a little kid who just farted.
The new passport photo is still dumb, but looks less…caffeinated, at least. And passport control officers won’t laugh at me as much.
Next Bogliasco application deadline: May 1!
Start getting your materials and rec letters in order, kids…
Link to application details here.
Bogliasco Fellowships are awarded to qualified persons working in the various disciplines of the Arts and Humanities without regard to nationality, age, race, or gender.
To be eligible for the award of a Fellowship, applicants should demonstrate significant achievement in their disciplines, commensurate with their age and experience. The Foundation gives preference to persons whose applications suggest that they would be comfortable working in an intimate, international, multi-lingual community of scholars and artists. Beginning with Fellowships during 2010-2011, the Bogliasco Foundation will accept only applications submitted online.
The following materials are required of all candidates for Fellowships. The written documents may be submitted in English, French, German, Italian, or Spanish.
(1) The completed application form.
(2) A short-form curriculum vitae, three pages in length.
(3) A description, one page in length, of the project that the applicant would pursue during her/his stay at the Liguria Study Center.
(4) Three letters of reference, which must be sent to the Foundation under separate cover.
(5) A sample of the applicant’s work that has been published, performed, exhibited, or otherwise publicly presented during the last five years.
There are certain practical issues that may influence the granting or scheduling of a Fellowship:
Reapplications: Persons who have previously been awarded Bogliasco Fellowships are eligible to reapply for subsequent Fellowships, but only after a period of three years has elapsed. For example, Bogliasco Fellows who were in residence during the winter-spring 2008 semester are eligible to reapply for winter-spring 2011.
Practical Restrictions: Before preparing an application you should consult with an officer of the Foundation (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you or your spouse/companion have either of the following:
— food allergies or other dietary restrictions (woff-warning: vegans will not do well here)
— problems walking up and down stairs or steep inclines. (they aren’t kidding. there are a lot of stairs)
If you decide to submit an application for a Bogliasco Fellowship, and have questions, please feel free to contact the Foundation office. Questions sent via email are preferred.
Next deadline for the submission of applications: May 1, 2010, for the winter-spring semester beginning in February 2011.
Notification date for the award of Fellowships: July 1, 2010 for Fellowships during the winter-spring semester beginning in February 2011.
Again, link to application details here.
You know, when you extract song lyrics, they sometimes end up seeming almost…Shakespearean.
And speaking of tragedies, this travesty of choreography is just too much to bear.
Everyone’s a dance critic, I know, but I’m sorry: how many kinds of wrong can this be?
It’s well-known how obsessed I am with the Cebu Prisoners (aka the Dancing Inmates), and as far as I’m concerned, Byron Garcia is the Zhang Yimou of my imaginary Philippines Olympics Opening Ceremonies. But THIS wretchedness, wrought by an interloper, is just not making the cut with me.
Apparently, Michael Jackson was a fan of the dancing prisoners (as well he should have been). In the aftermath of his passing, and the posthumous release of the concert film “This Is It” in theaters and then DVD, Cebu prison program head Garcia was convinced to yield his reins to Michael Jackson’s primary choreographer Travis Payne, which in theory would be the logical conclusion and culmination of the Cebu Prisoners-Michael Jackson nexus. Perhaps symbolically it still is: incaracerated individuals with little to no personal agency dancing out pop imperialist promotional material….I really don’t know where this leaves notions of a prison-industrial complex. Maybe just prison complex. Or complex prison choreography. Something.
There’s really just too much for me to write about the following, so here are my general first impressions:
- Leni Riefenstahl’s “Triumph of the Will” in Halloween colors
- ultra-creepy military formations
- tight regimentation really ruins all the fun
- moves that might have been jazzy on a 98 lb weakling alone center stage do not have quite the same effect when employed by a handful of beefy american showboaters surrounded by hundreds of prisoners marching lock-step
- once again, filipinos become the backdrops for someone else’s fantasia
- lighting and video quality is better: I will concede only this
- the bizarro parading-about of a Martin Luther King placard in some sort of cross-promotion for civil liberties in prison could seem symbolically appropriate under certain circumstances, but here = wack and exploitative in the worst way
- sorry: orange pants only look good with orange shirts in this situation
- Unbelievably lame t-shirts promoting the the DVD release worse than prison uniforms
- white MJ rorschach blob on shirts looks like A, dead silverfish, B, texas longhorns logo, C, horsehead skull, D, all of the above
- disco moves could be put to far better use
- no zombies, nuns or trannies = lame
- “pubic triangle” formation of probably little relevance to either Jackson or the inmates
- a peace symbol formed by prisoners all shaking their fists in the air just seems plain wrong.
- What I really wanna know is: When’s the Wonder Girls DVD release going to happen?
“Some things in life they just don’t wanna see
But if Martin Luther was livin’
He wouldn’t let this beeeee….”
Soooo, I just received this pretty interesting call for submissions yesterday.
First, the call. At the bottom, my thoughts on it.
“Here we are now, entertain us.” – Nirvana
“High school’s full of phonies, and all you do is study so that you can learn enough to be smart enough to be able to buy a goddam Cadillac some day, and you have to keep making believe you give a damn if the football team loses.” -J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
OK. So, first: I’m really, genuinely excited that a space as well-regarded as Catharine Clark is willing to host an exhibition that involves teenagers, and especially one that necessitates collaboration, at that! Seeing as teens are a rapidly dwindling part of the San Francisco population, it’s nice to see a different kind of art space (other than the ones who’ve had excellent youth programs forever, like SoEx) put some focus on them. I like the new media aspect of this, too.
Here are my sticking points: I really dislike the assumptions implicit in a sweeping statement like “Teenagers push the boundaries of accepted behavior in every era. They thrive despite raging hormones, clueless parents, ridiculous authority figures, and the dawning recognition that the entire status quo is absurd. They will define the future of new media.” It does a disservice to teens, and presumes much about their lives, and their access to technology (beyond their presumed at-a-minimum iPods, cell phones, and social media). I’ve worked with kids who were too poor to have a cellphone, and too humiliated to admit it. Choosing profoundly dated quotes by your go-to white male American anti-heroes doesn’t really widen the pool of suggestion much, either. I fear that this is a set-up for an equally narrow subset of applicants, too: the Venn Diagram showing where fine art, new media, gender, collaborative projects, and youth intersect tends to be a profoundly privileged and narrow little slice.
Biggie Biggie Biggie can’t you see
Sometimes your blogs just woffle-ize meeee…
Holy crap. It’s like this man just read my dream journal. In less than a month on the internets, he’s hit the nail on the head.
Waffleizer is a new blog after my own heart. I love that he’s contriving ways to waffle all sorts of non-standard textural delights. And I really love that this guy is endeavoring to become some sort of Waffle Profiteer, promoting the sales of waffle irons as part of the raison d’etre for the site. (Dang. Why didn’t I think of that?)
His non-rhetorical query “Will It Waffle“ is the new “WWJD“.
Sir, please let me design your merch. T-shirts.
Here, Waffled Aloo Parantha:
And here, Waffled Cheezburger:
And I just love your flashy ways
Guess that’s why I’m broke and you’re so paid…