Sunday, October 31, 2010

Slow shuffle

I was 13 when I caught my first glimpse of George Romero's classic, Night of the Living Dead. I didn't see the whole movie; my Auntie quickly changed the channel when she heard me shrieking early on. Early versions of zombies were slow moving, posture challenged and cliquish. They didn't have claws or fangs, they weren't muscular and didn't have weapons of any sort. They were simply hungry and relentless, which is a terrifying combination.

AMC's new show, The Walking Dead premieres tonight. Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 30, 2010


The Creation of Eve, William Blake

The Creation of Eve, Lorenzo Maitani

The Creation of Eve, Michelangelo Buonarotti

The Creation of Eve, Abel Pann

Friday, October 29, 2010


Masterpiece, the Parker Brothers board game is currently out-of-print. Growing up in Chicago, the Windy City was my universe, so it made perfect sense that the 24 paintings players bid for at 'auction' were famous works from the Art Institute. Just recently, I discovered there was a second version that featured paintings from the National Gallery in London.

Maybe I'd score the Bitsy (shown seated at the far left) player card. She was young and stylish and probably had an ultra-cool lair that was littered with great art. Oh, but the threat of drawing the Millicent Friendly (seated next to Bitsy) player card loomed large. You just sensed any art would never see the light of day in her creaky old mansion.

I longed to own this painting...

At the Moulin Rouge, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

...and never bid on this one! (no one did!)

The Rock, Peter Blume

Thursday, October 28, 2010

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

In the universe of Woody Allen's new film, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, all of the characters are attractive, with tastefully decorated London flats, in relationships with passionate, intelligent partners and working at or retired from interesting jobs —so why isn't anyone happy?

Sally yearns to have her own gallery and a baby, her husband Roy wants to be published again and daydreams about the girl next door. Sally's father, Alfie, has left his wife for a younger woman, only to find his excitement fade to unbearable loneliness. His former wife Helena, Sally's mother, finds comfort in a fortune teller and wonders about her previous lives. That describes only a handful of characters, and just the first 15 minutes. If it weren't for the many locations, you'd swear you were watching a play; a farce replete with the occasional gasp or shreik before a door closes or curtain is drawn.

The movie suggests that happiness is fleeting, and only in the wanting of things, not having them. The characters struggle with their restlessness, the audience becomes restless watching them struggle.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Picture this

November 8th is the release date for Lynda Barry's new book,

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I just picked up Maira Kalman's new book And the Pursuit of Happiness. Maira muses on history, statesmen, freedom and...pie! Just look at the knock-me-out-beautiful back cover!

It's impossible to be angry and make a pie; the dough needs to be handled without fussiness or clumsiness, so you'd better pay attention.

Pie trumps cake.

Store-bought crusts are awful. It doesn't matter how much time is saved.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Based on the novel

John Wayne portrayed Rooster Cogburn
in the 1969 film True Grit, based on the 1968 novel
by Charles Portis. Wayne won his only Oscar for his performance.

Wayne portrayed Ethan Edwards
in the 1956 film The Searchers, based on the 1954
novel by Alan Le May. His performance was full of rage,
complexity and humor. It was the role of a lifetime,
and surely the one that deserved the golden statuette.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


In Boston, I visited the Museum of Fine Arts exhibition, Avedon Fashion 1944-2000.

Richard Avedon became a fashion photographer, shooting for Bazaar and Vogue magazines while he was in his early twenties. In his earliest images, the models are radiant with movement, and often shown in ironic settings, perhaps at the expense of showcasing the clothing.

My favorite photo of the exhibit: the model, while beautiful,
is as unique and alien as the street performers around her.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

All by myself

I have a pretty large collection of children's books. There isn't a single Dr. Seuss title among them. Oh, I've read a lot of his books, but never felt the need to take one home for keeps. It's sacrilege, I know, but I do love my copies of Put Me in the Zoo by Robert Lopshire, and Go Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman. Both titles are part of the 'Seuss Library' for beginning readers. There's just something about the zany universe created by Lopshire and Eastman that I find so funny and odd.

PS I have never been to a party as happening as the one Eastman created in what appears to be a baobob tree!

Friday, October 22, 2010


Parisian street artist JR received the prestigious 2011 TED prize. The intensely private photographer prefers anonymity, instead creating enormous photographs of people and posting them on walls, rooftops and buildings. Despite their size, the images remain intimate and personal.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Bob Dylan and Suze Rotolo, February 1963
Photographs by Don Hunstein

It seems like such a simple photograph, just a young couple walking in a city on a cold day. But its pared down sensibility at a time when most album covers were carefully choreographed and staged, is why it became so iconic and influential.

My sensory reaction to the image is immediate: I know the sound of slushy streets, the smell of snow on metal and brick, the feel of a cold leather jacket. If you've lived in a climate cold enough for snow, you know its effect: staying inside, staying warm is top priority and in the necessary time outside you huddle for warmth and hunch your shoulders against the brisk wind. Winter can be long and brutal; being young and in love helps. The cover of Freewheelin' captures all of that aliveness.

Dylan and Rotolo dated for several years when he was just starting out. In the photos he is 21 years old, and she is just 19.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Designer Ji Lee printed 50,000 bubble stickers and plastered them on top of ads throughout the streets of Manhattan. Intentionally left blank, it was only a matter of time before people began to fill them in with their own personal thoughts. The Bubble Project became a global experiment, inviting expression, free of censorship, on the face of what was once invasive corporate persuasion.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sullivan's Travels

I bought Sullivan's Travels (the Criterion Collection), written and directed by the ever fresh and brilliant Preston Sturges. There were plenty of awful movies made back in the day (Sullivan's Travels was released in 1941), but when you hear Grandma say, "They don't make movies like they used to!" she is referring to gems like this.

Joel McCrea + Veronica Lake = cute couple

Monday, October 18, 2010


Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir

photographed by Antanas Sutkus

"Hell is other people," has always been misunderstood. It has been thought that what I meant by that was that our relations with other people are always poisoned, that they are invariably hellish relations. But what I really mean is something totally different. I mean that if relations with someone else are twisted, vitiated, then that other person can only be hell. Why? Because...when we think about ourselves, when we try to know ourselves,...we use the knowledge of us which other people already have. We judge ourselves with the means other people have and have given us for judging ourselves. Into whatever I say about myself, someone else's judgement always enters. Into whatever I feel within myself someone else's judgement enters...But that does not at all mean that one cannot have relations with other people. It simply brings out the capitol importance of all other people for each one of us.

--Jean Paul Sartre

Human stain

Hell is other people.

--Jean Paul Sartre, No Exit

Arsenal v Fenerbahce

Bank of England 9am


Photographer Simon Terrill takes a scientific approach in documenting and erasing crowds. Even after removing figures from his images, a stain or shadowy residue remains.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


There are better movies about champion horses than Disney's Secretariat. But forgiving the generic writing, and the inescapable feeling of an after-school special, I have to say, I was seduced by the horse. Secretariat wasn't just a beautiful stallion, he was perhaps the top thoroughbred racehorse of all time, who won the 1973 U.S. Triple Crown, smashing previous records at the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes races—records that remain to this day unbeaten. At the Belmont Stakes, he ran the fastest 1.5 miles in history, astonishing the crowd by crossing the finish line a full 31 lengths ahead of the next horse. The trophies, earnings, covers on Time magazine and Newsweek meant nothing—he just loved to run.

Greatness is mesmerizing. Standing before a glorious painting or a majestic building or watching an athlete surpass every expectation, we are ennobled by excellence and verve. Yes, those are actors, it's true the horse onscreen is much smaller than Secretariat, maybe a few of the details are rushed, but I was thrilled to see him win.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Dear Technology

The things I wonder about most are not on the internet, I promise you that.

--Sam Shepard

How does media shape us? Has the technology that allows us to shop, apply for schools, jobs, an apartment, loan or relationship, vote, opine, connect, inform and see the planet from space become our muse?

Thursday, October 14, 2010


William S. Burroughs on his shotgun painting technique:

There is no exact process. If you want to do shotgun art, you take a piece of plywood, put a can of spray paint in front of it, and shoot it with a shotgun or high powered rifle. The paint's under high pressure so it explodes. Throw the can 300 feet. The paint sprays in exploding color across your surface. You can have as many colors as you want. Turn it around, do it sideways, and have one color coming in from this side and this side. Of course, they hit. Mix in all kinds of unpredictable patterns. This is related to Pollack's drip canvases, although this is a more basically random process, there's no possibility of predicting what
patterns you're going to get.

Out of the Closet, 1990

Smash it up

Keith Moon takes drumming center stage.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Veruschka von Lehndorff

Camouflage as art: model extraordinaire Veruschka dissolves into
her surroundings. Photos by Holger Trülzsch.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Make Way for Ducklings

There's plenty to see in Boston, but I'm looking forward to making a pilgrimage to the Public Garden ducklings sculpture based on Robert McCloskey's beloved classic, Make Room for Ducklings.

Wouldn't it be great to replace the bull sculpture on Wall Street in New York City with Ferdinand?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Les féves

The Epiphany holiday on January 6th, the twelfth day of Christmas, celebrates the visit of the Magi or the "Three Kings" to the infant Jesus. In France, it is traditional to bake a King Cake and insert a tiny ceramic figure inside. The child that finds the figure in his or her slice is king for the day. Never mind the possibility of choking or breaking teeth, family and holy traditions are ties that bind. Historically, the fava bean was used before ceramic figures or charms, which is why they are called les féves.