Sunday, December 29, 2013

Reference material

Exterior shot of The Lake Pub from The Returned (Les Revenants).

Fabrice Gobert is both writer and director of the French television series, The Returned. To create the eerie music so intrinsic to the mood of the episodes, he offered Dominic Aitchison from Mogwai some direction. He listed films that had music he liked, and also shared photos by the American photographer Gregory Crewdson. The influence of Crewdson's vision is striking.

Photos below, by Gregory Crewdson

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Maira timeline

Maira Kalman. I've loved her work since seeing it for the first time in 1989 
(Stay Up Late).    24 years and counting, that love is officially a part of me.

Friday, December 20, 2013



Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Wall of Death

Since the early 1900s, the Wall of Death or Well of Death attracted daredevil motorcyclists and stunt drivers, who performed centrifugal feats in carnival shows, motordromes and amusement parks.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The King Down Under

Before the stardom, the army, the goofy movies, the entourage, the spangled suits, the karate moves and Las Vegas, there was an ambitious young singer from Memphis, Tennessee. 

Elvis at 21, an exhibition of photographs by Alfred Wertheimer
at the National Portrait Gallery in Australia
until March 10, 2014

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Returned

What makes a human, human?

With that in mind, what makes a zombie, zombie?

Victor, you're creeping me out!
The Returned can be seen on the Sundance Channel
or purchased by episode on Amazon.

Victor loves to draw, play on the trampoline and hold hands when he walks.
Like other young children, he is shy around strangers and is afraid of the dark.
He is handsome, yet unnnerving. 

Maybe because he is dead, having died some 35 years ago.

The French series The Returned offers a new and disturbing version of
the dead returning to inhabit the world of the living.

I love fast zombies.
I love slow zombies.
And now, a new love: zombies that talk, make themselves sandwiches, crack jokes
and get into fist fights. They seem just the way we remember them before they passed away.

Only different.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Truly, madly, deeply

As part of their senior thesis exhibition at Musashino Art University,
Saiko Kanda and Mayuka Hayashi created portraits of couples
using a CT scan  and x-ray machine.

Eerie and spectacular!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Gear dress

The Beatle dress, circa 1964

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Happy and healthy

Friday, December 6, 2013


The Dallas Buyers Club is based on the true story of Ron Woodroof, a Texas electrician who, after being diagnosed with AIDS, began smuggling alternative and illegal drugs into the USA to extend his life as well as the lives of other patients.
The film tells an important story of a disease and the frustrating bureaucracy that conceivably translated to the death of scores of patients. 

Matthew McConaughey (having his best year ever) plays Woodroof with astonishing range. Jared Leto is cast as Rayon, a transsexual AIDS patient, instrumental in creating the network of buyers for Woodroof. Both McConaughey and Leto dropped between 30 to 40 pounds to appear believably ravaged by illness. Losing or gaining weight can have a dramatic impact on 'getting into character', and this is especially so in the case of Ron and Rayon.

There's plenty of chatter about McConaughey's fierce and convincing performance, always followed by comments on his shocking weight loss.  But Jared Leto's transformative turn as Rayon has a quiet power that steals some of that thunder. In one scene, Rayon, who typically wears flowery dresses and bright lipstick,visits her conservative father. It's clear her father never supported or approved of Rayon's true nature, and out of respect Rayon wears a man's suit for her visit. Those few moments where Jared Leto looks so uncomfortable in the suit, so unhinged to be sans make-up, so tortured to pretend to be male if only for a short visit, they reveal how deeply the actor inhabited his role.


 Jared Leto as Rayon

Matthew McConaughey as Ron Woodroof

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Light as a pillow

I love these paper pillow lights from IKEA
They look fantastic as a group in this very dark bedroom.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

10 List: Best films for far

When I lived in Los Angeles, Decembers were filled with film screenings with my good friend Matt. We saw several titles each week, sometimes several in a single day. The best screenings were followed by Q & A sessions with the cast or director or writer (my most favorite panel had Jeff Bridges, T-Bone Burnett and Robert Duvall).  Oh, we sat through some awful movies too, and the thing about screenings is that (understandably) it's totally unacceptable to get up and leave.

Miss you Matt!

I look at my list of favorite films (so far) for 2013 and recognize they all have stellar performances combined with excellent writing. But the interesting way in which these stories were told made them especially great. In no particular order:

Before Midnight (Richard Linklater)

20 Feet From Stardom (Morgan Neville)

Mud (Jeff Nichols)

Frances Ha (Noah Baumbach)

All is Lost (J.C. Chandor)

Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen)

Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler)

The Spectacular Now (James Ponsoldt)

Stories We Tell (Sarah Polley)

Gravity (Alphonso CuarĂ³n)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Bug me, Baby

Mattel's Scooba-Doo doll, circa 1964

Pull her Chatty-Ring to hear her say:

I dig that crazy beat, yeah!
Play it cool, don't be a square.
Hey, dig this.
I dig food, like when do we eat?
Come on, let's get with it, like wheeeee!
Hey Sweetie, like you're something else, y'know?
Hey Doll, like you're way out!
Dig my crazy black stockings!
Scooba-Doo song
I'm hip, y'know, like a beatnik.
Bug me, Baby.

Blonde or brunette...dig it!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Love Letters

Many artists have covered the song, Love Letters, but Ketty Lester's version was selected by David Lynch for the end shootout scene in his 1986 film, Blue Velvet. The song builds slowly, but never reaches a dazzling finish. Instead, Lester sings in a measured, deliberate style like a girl fully in control of her emotions.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Sweet Jane



Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Berenice Abbott, Seventh Avenue Looking South (1935)

Beppe Giacobbe, from Clang! Clang! Beep! Beep: Listen to the City (2009)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Whether or not you're a sports fan, or your awareness of Lance Armstrong is limited to a yellow Livestrong bracelet rattling around in a drawer somewhere, award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney's latest feature, The Armstrong Lie, is completely fascinating.

Originally, Gibney's film was about Lance Armstrong's 2009 comeback to cycling after his announced retirement and four-year absence. Gibney spent much of 2009 with Armstrong, during his training, life on the road, and finally at the grueling 2009 Tour de France. Throughout his career, beginning at his first Tour de France win in 1999, Armstrong was immersed in rumors, suspicion and innuendo that he had used performance-enhancing drugs. He staunchly, aggressively and contentiously denied any use of banned substances or banned blood transfusions.  Gibney had completed his film,  but a new doping scandal was building momentum. More allegations that Armstrong didn't win 'clean' appeared in the news, including a Nightline interview with Armstrong's former teammate, Floyd Landis, who stated he had witnessed Armstrong receive illegal transfusions 'multiple times'.  The decision was made to shelve the original film.

In October of 2012, after a lengthy and extensive investigation confirmed his use of banned performance-enhancing substances, Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life from competitive sport (applicable to all sports which follow the World Anti-Doping Agency code). After reading the 200 page report issued by the USADA (U.S. Anti-Doping Agency) that included interviews and testimonies of people with direct knowledge of Armstrong's doping, UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) President Pat McQuaid was quoted, "Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling and he deserves to be forgotten in cycling."

Gibney returned to his original film, re-edited and added new interviews and footage, creating The Armstrong Lie. The film contains compelling historical material: Lance as a young triathlete, bald and pale as he battles cancer, charming as he visits hospital wards, and stunningly ferocious as he destroys the competition during so many races. Gibney's documentary is about Lance Armstrong, about his brilliant rise and his disgraceful fall, but it is also about the culture of hero-worship. Gibney admits in his narration that he also wanted to "believe the beautiful lie, more than the ugly truth."

Lance Armstrong may have no place in cycling. He may spend the rest of his life battling the many lawsuits that followed his confession that he lied and he cheated. In the theater where I saw the movie, you could hear the audience voice their contempt at the bright screen. It's hard to imagine he will ever be forgotten.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Mr. and Mrs.

Louis and Lil
Louis and Lucille

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Surreal sweat

Dadaists rejected reason and embraced nonsense.

These limited edition sweatshirts by MSGM  and Toilet Paper 
do too.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Subject matters

Ordinary meets extraordinary.
Still life paintings by Vija Celmins.

(love the blunt titles!)

 Pan, 1964

 Heater, 1964

 Eggs, 1964

Lamp #1, 1964

Knife and Dish, 1964

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Paul, still the cute one.

Illustration by the great Paul Thurlby

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Moon, Light

They Watched at Night, by Sean Lewis

So lovely

Available at Nucleus Gallery

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Where are you going?

Strange travel posters

 Albert Brenet for Air France, 1949
French West Africa may not be for everyone.

Delta Airlines, 1961
Tampa - Ahoy, matey!

 Continental Airlines, 1960
Didn't you know? KC is famous for barbecue.

 Air-India, c. 1960s
Sumo. You know you want to.

Otto Nielsen for Scandinavian Airlines System, 1958
Unless you were dropped off in rural Montana, 
this poster is a bit misleading...even for 1958.

Friday, November 8, 2013


Rene Magritte, La Clef des Songes (The Interpretation of Dreams)

A surreal primer

The exhibition, Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary is at the 
MOMA in New York until January 12, 2014