Saturday, May 30, 2009

I got

Jason Lytle's new CD the other day, in part because I used to love his band, Grandaddy, but also because of this song and video.

The whole album isn't as heavy as all that, but listening to it in the car, JW said, "Uhm, this is really--"

I finished his thought: "Depressing?"

True, but on these dreary June gloomy days, it feels kind of perfect.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


I always enjoy seeing Cadmus in museums. Every time I wander through the galleries at LACMA, I find myself lingering in front of Coney Island. There's so much in the frame and it's all so wicked and funny and grotesque.

So I was pleased to read on Modern Art Notes about Paul Cadmus's painting of his lover, Jerry. It's so different from the kind of paintings I know by him. And it's so gorgeous I have to paste it below.

Just look at him lying there, imploring you to read Ulysses to him while he seductively strikes a Thinker pose. This guy's trouble!

Read more about the painting -- and Cadmus's influence on Tom of Finland -- here.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Automata in the LAT

I really liked this article about the avant garde puppet organization called Automata Arts. I saw the first installment of Concrete Folk Variations at Manual Archives in Silver Lake last year, and it was a performance experience unlike any I've had in L.A. They're worth checking out.

This is one of my favorite passages from the article:
Puppetry is difficult, labor intensive and hopelessly unprofitable (at least on this scale). Few arrive at it but by pure passion, and that passion is infectious, engaging audiences to a degree rarely encountered in, say, the gallery world. It may be also that there is something fundamentally poignant about puppets that, when skillfully harnessed, bewitches puppeteer and audiences alike: their miniature scale, their ties to childhood, their relation to the body, their imitation of life, their evocation of death.

"The idea that the puppet is just a fragile provisional being that you have to kind of hold together all the time seems relevant, somehow, to how I think of people," Simpson says. "How they hold their own identities together and how they present and think of their own coherence or lack of coherence, or the effort that goes into any kind of coherence."

It is the poignancy, she adds, "of watching something that is fragile but that with extreme effort maintains a sort of life. I continue to find that really moving and interesting."

I really liked

Rajiv Joseph's Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo at the Kirk Douglas. There's a nice profile of the playwright in the LATimes here.

Thursday, May 07, 2009


dream exploration and acting! In today's NYTimes:
At a recent class in Manhattan taught by Kim Gillingham, a protégé of Ms. Seacat, 15 students lay on yoga mats, their dream journals beside them. Incense burned, candles flickered and musical selections from Chopin and the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt helped muffle the street noise outside the Chelsea studio. Students had been told to bring with them a dream to work on individually. Other times, they act out one another’s dreams.

“Whisper into the mat what you wouldn’t want anyone else to know,” Ms. Gillingham said. “Tell it where you’re scared, tell it where you’re stuck.”

After the mat work, the students stood up and Ms. Gillingham said, “Breathe out like an old horse.” They did so, followed by a guttural chorus of “ahhhhhhhhhhhhh.”

“Travel to the place, the thing, the energy that you most don’t want to deal with,” she instructed.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

I rarely read

the Letters to the Editor in the New Yorker, but for some reason cracked them open this evening and found this nice one, in response to Anthony Lane's smart piece on the published volume of some early Beckett letters.
Anthony Lane’s sensitive and nuanced review of Samuel Beckett’s early correspondence brings together, in its closing section, two tricky concepts that loom large in the phenomenology of the writer’s experience: one is a sense of need—“This matters; this has purpose”; the other is a sense of power or ability—“I can do this, I am able, I can carry out this task to its appropriate end” (A Critic at Large, March 30th). Rainer Maria Rilke once suggested that “a work of art is good if it has arisen out of necessity,” implying that a (“good”) literary creation has its genesis in a sense of necessity. But what of those writers who feel the need but technically cannot rise to the occasion? And what of those writers who, in order to discover an authentic sense of need or purpose, must first slog through the otherwise mundane task of writing itself—“go through the motions,” so to speak? It seems that the achievement of productive periods eventually involves a substantive psychological merging of these two analytically separate states.

Joachim B. Lyon
Stanford, Calif.