ebogjonson.com's city of angels archivelos angeles is where I make my rest. these postings document various doings about town, events, observations, trajectories and so on. (I really do have to confess to being surprised at how much I like it here.)(so far.)
August 26, 2007
single in LA 003
Watching A Clockwork Orange at Charlie 0's in downtown LA.
This place used to be famous for bums and tranny prostitutes, but
gentifrication has brought a decent house dj (DJ Marko) and flatscreens
playing Kubrick flicks.
May 12, 2007
sign of the times
Posted by ebogjonson at 3:32 PM | Permalink
March 25, 2007
michiko yao 004
I'm not really qualified to explain it, but what I've seen of Michiko's work is about global images of Japanese womanhood, the funny field effect you get when domesticity and and fantasy and cuteness and active rebellions all get mashed together and projected across borders.
Posted by ebogjonson at 7:43 PM | Permalink
michiko yao 003
Michiko and Ingrid at LAAA / Gallery 825 in Hollywood, where some of Michiko's work was showing.
Posted by ebogjonson at 6:01 PM | Permalink
March 24, 2007
I'm not really surprised that Mel Gibson told Cal State Northridge assistant prof Alicia Estrada to fuck-off, this after teach called his Mayan blood-orgy Apocalypto racist. What does surprise me is that usually tough-minded folks, like, LA Weekly's usually spot-on Nikki Finke (or some HuffPo commenters), think Gibson was "provoked." Showing the proverbial white slip Finke writes:
Yes, it's true that Mel Gibson cursed an assistant professor and Mayan community leader -- but only after the duo disrupted a question-and-answer session at a Southern California University which was screening his Apocalypto Thursday night. [full finke]
The awful, awful disruption that so provoked Gibson? The worst I've been able to gather from published accounts is that the two protesters refused to give up the mic and read "a lengthy statement in Spanish." I guess Gibson's defenders must be part of the "English-only" crowd, as when I was in college no disruption worthy of the name "protest" didn't at least involve shouting and blocking entrances, maybe a chant and a pie. Not to defend youthful indiscretion, but in contrast poor, poor Mel only had to listen to a translation.
Tellingly, Gibson's didn't seem to boil over until after the so-called disruptors were being led away by campus rent-a-cops. Finke again:
Gibson was asked if their mike should be turned off. "Let them continue," he said. But some students yelled out "shut up" and "sit down" at the protesters. Finally, a campus police officer ended the disruption by leading Estrada and her friend from the room. About half the class applauded. Gibson, his face now red, fired back with his expletive. "He told her to 'Fuck off, lady, get a history book, and read," student Guagan recounted. His parting shot was "Make your own movie!"
What a complete, punk, coward move! Gibson maintains his cool throughout but for some reason just can't keep it in his pants at the sight of two brown folks being led away by the police. This is classic, yahoo-racist behavior: act all friendly and professional, and then, once you're absolutely sure the crowd and the fuzz are on your side, go all red in face and the give the offending coloreds a proper what-for.
The real provocation here as I see it isn't two people holding onto a mic for too long and forcing 130 people to listen to Spanish, it's the persistent, unbearable whiteness of Hollywood. (To her credit, Finke has written well about these issues previously, but not today.) We're supposed to take as neutral and non-provocative the fact that hundreds (if not thousands) of (mostly) white folks in Hollywood diligently devoted years and tens of millions of dollars to making, distributing, marketing and defending a racially-charged, pretentious and ultimately middling adventure flick, but god forbid someone hold onto a microphone for 20 minutes, at which point folks come down with cases of outraged, wilting vapors. The underlying assumption is that Gibson is somehow being mau-mau'd by media coverage of his outburst, i.e. he's a victim, which is as much of a crock as his movie.
But, of course, this is a Hollywood kerfuffle, so the rights, freedoms and fragile temperaments of rich, moronic movie people are - no pun intended - paramount. Those who claim Gibson was provoked make the same defense of white privilege that John Ridley made in the HuffPo when he asked re: Kramergate:
[W]hat exactly do you call a couple of black guys who go to a public place where people paid money to enjoy themselves and who then begin to yell and scream at the person on stage who is trying to do his job? [full talking androidery]
Right. I guess there's no reaction that's out of bounds or unprofessional when you're white and in show business and there's money changing hands.
The F-Bomb aside, Gibson's parting shot - "make your own movie!" - may be like shouting "win your own lottery," but it also gets us closer to his (as well as the rest of Hollywood's) underlying anxiety about our increasingly multicultural market-place: if Mayans are making movies, who the heck needs Mel Gibson to make Apocalypto? Be careful what you wish for Mel; you wouldn't want to end up as the D.W. Griffith of the Mayan cinema.
January 10, 2007
los angeles lagos mexico city
Caryn writes in art.blogging.la:
One of the complaints I hear most about Los Angeles is the fact that it's "spread out." I've often used this complaint myself, especially on my drive home every night, and it's one of the reasons why I created this blog - to cohere the vast sprawl of the LA art scene. However during a September panel discussion I did at Gallery 825 when I was hearing this complaint voiced loudly as a major negative, I suddenly realized that what I thought was a detriment to LA was, in fact, one of the things I love most about this city.
What this sprawl does, besides annoy you in traffic, is allow diversity to reign supreme in Los Angeles - one can experience many different Los Angeleses including sub-scenes of music, fashion, art, food, and business. Chinatown offers a different art variety than Culver City and it goes on down the line. Our sprawl of art schools and museums, from the Getty to Orange County Museum of Art and everything in-between, is actually what makes the art here so exciting and so very different from any other city in the U.S. I mean, isn't there a reason why we "Los Angeles" is synonymous with "Southern California?" You can't put your finger on what's going on here and, granted it's not all good but it's still quite fantastic.
This is, of course, the American way of saying that LA is the US city that most echoes the emerging global standard for urban areas. When I was in Nairobi I kept thinking that if I closed my eyes, abstracted out the people and blinked quickly I could be in LA, or any other warm weather megacity.
November 9, 2006
am I out of step with America?
Actually, I mean "Am I out of step with California?"
Although I was in perfect tune with the nation on almost all of the House and Senate races, I was down with more than a few losers in CA. The following is a review of California election results and how I voted.
Governor - Schwarzenegger , Arnold (i) - GOP - Wrong! I voted for the other guy. Having missed the recall fracaso that put him in office, I will confess to not minding the Governator as much as some, but still. Just on the general principle of state dignity, I can't believe that guy is governor.
I pretty much went party-line on the other statewide offices:
Lieutenant Governor - Garamendi , John - Dem - The Dem got my vote and won
Secretary of State - Bowen , Debra - Dem - ditto
Attorney General - Brown , Jerry - Dem - ditto on Gov. Moonbeam
Treasurer - Lockyer , Bill - Dem - ditto
Controller - Chiang , John - Dem - yes, my Asiatic brother
Insurance Commissioner - Poizner , Steve - GOP - Whoops! My straight party-line vote had me on the wrong side of this particular office. I should mention, though, that Dem candidate Cruz Bustamante came across to me as somewhat sleazy, so I can't complain about this outcome too much.
On propositions, my picks were a bit more off.
On the plus side, I lined up with the rest of the CA electorate on the following propositions allocating more money for education, transportation and housing infrastructure improvements: 1B (more funds for highway safety), 1C (more homeless shelters and emergency housing), 1D (a school infrastructure bond act), and 1E (fixing levees).(!)
I also lined up favorably on proposition 84, voting "yes" to increase money for parks, land preservation and the protection of water supplies. On the "No" side, I joined Californians in rejecting propositions 85 (the anti-choice "parental notification" act), 88, (a nice sounding education funding bill that increase the funding disparity between poor and rich districts), and, 90 (a lawyer-funding proposition masquerading as an anti-eminent domain protection.)
On the signature proposition of the election, though, the star-studded 87 alternative energy initiative, I voted with the minority that supported making CA the leader in alternative energy. (The $90+ million spent by the oil companies to defeat the bill apparently worked.) I also voted against proposition 83 and lost, meaning the number of people who can be defined as "sex offenders" will increase, and that those folks can now be monitored via GPS for, like, life. While I understand the emotional appeal of the prop., it also strikes me as both pointless and draconian given the number of laws already on the books to punish sex offenders and to insure they remain permanent, un-rehabiliated outcasts. I really can't imagine what more we can do to pervs who have already had the book thrown at them served their time, except maybe brand them, put their eyes out and inject a chip in their asses. (That was rhetorical; please save all the "well, why don't we?!" comments.)
Another one of my losers was 89, which would have diluted the impact of big money in elections by providing for public campaign financing. Curiously, this prop. went down even more resoundingly than the sex offender prop. went up, apparently making clean, publicly funded elections more hated by CA voters than child molesters:
Do you hate kiddie diddlers?
Yes! 4,673,124 70.49
No 1,956,225 29.51
Do you want clean, publicly financed elections?
No! 4,846,442 74.44
Yes 1,663,695 25.56
Before you guys think I'm trying to present myself as some kind of paragon of civic virtue, I will confess that I voted "no" on a proposition that I didn't fully understand - 1A, which guaranteed certain transportation funds had to be used only for transportation - this because some or another good government group told me it would hamstring the state during some future, unforeseen budget crisis.
I also voted for an increase of CA cigarette taxes - 86 - this even though I don't actually believe in them. The thing is that I used to smoke and recall my habit with great, sad fondness, so I know better than most that people will buy cigarettes no matter how much they cost. (At the end of my habit I was smoking Nat Shermans, which I think cost more than weed, so I would have been able to live with an $8 pack.) It also seems to me that (more abstractly) this kind of "sin tax" is regressive and tends to disproportionally punish the poor, precisely the same class of folks already being victimized by big tobacco.
In the end, though, I couldn't resist the call of do-gooderism and tough-love, in so much as it seems to me that if you are going to go and smoke, you might as well pay for your own medical care. So the ultimate outcome on all this was pretty much right by me: I did the right thing with my vote, but no one is going to pay for it. Cowardly, I know, but hey: it's like that sometimes.
In terms of California's wacky state judicial appointment/retention system, I voted for and against a whole bunch of people, and, except for the State Supreme Court justices, I had no idea whatsoever who the fuck any of them were. This being LalaLand, my ignorance was apparently both the statewide status quo and irrelevant, as everyone who "should" have won on 11/7 did:
Despite worries from some judges and legal commentators that California's judicial election process was in danger of becoming politicized, voters have soundly endorsed the status quo.
The electorate voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to retain state Supreme Court Justices Joyce L. Kennard and Carol A. Corrigan, along with all 51 Court of Appeal justices on the ballot.
Critics have long bemoaned that most voters don't have a clue who any of the judges are when they go to vote -- and that many cast ballots anyway.[full story]
To tell the truth, I voted for people that had ethnic names (terrible, I know) and for people whose job descriptions I liked, the judicial ballots coming not with party affiliations but with short background / job description titles like "prosecutor" or "state attorney." Perversely, my knee-jerk, anti-prosecutor bias had me on the wrong side of the line yet again:
Election outcomes for four vacant seats on the Los Angeles County Superior Court bench were also without surprises. By large margins, voters picked four criminal prosecutors, traditional favorites, to ascend to the bench. [full story]
I'm really not sure how to end after that last note: Even when I'm wrong, I'm right? Even when I'm right, I'm wrong?
Posted by ebogjonson at 2:19 PM | Permalink
November 7, 2006
Win or lose (and I am desperately hoping for win), I felt pretty good about voting this morning. My polling place was at a firehouse in Downtown LA, and although turnout was way thin, the motley assemblage of poll-workers filled me with a kind of warm, to-the-brim love for my whacked-out and fragile community. There was the older immigrant woman (Chinese?) who fumbled a bit but also beamed at everyone with what seemed to be a combination of grandmotherly love and pride at participating in the new country's rituals and procedures. There was the grizzled black retiree who was all brusque business, dude obviously taking his role in the democratic process very seriously. There was the 40-something-ish, jangly and desperately happy gent who seemed a week out of rehab or AA, his every word vibrating with the high enthusiasm of the recently sober, his body and mind still running a few cycles too fast, but what the heck - it's election day: there are things to do, ballot cards to stack. There was the pair of fireman murmuring and keeping their own counsel behind cups of coffee, maybe glad to be seeing all these voters upright in here instead of laid out and in need of rescuing out on the street. There was the young Latino dude text-messaging across the ether with a brand new Motorola slim-phone PDA, his generationally-endowed ease with techology winning him the job of ballot-card-machine-feeder, which besides being a place of futuristic honor also gave him a bit of private time with all the ladies coming in and voting, downtown hipsters behind shades at that hour, a category that including my girlfriend, to whom he offered "for you? Anything!" apropos of nothing as her ballot went whirring away to be counted. It all really made me quite grateful and proud.
Posted by ebogjonson at 2:36 PM | Permalink
September 17, 2006
ACLU CRACK HAVEN
I think I kind of live here. The picture above was found on Art Blogging LA.
I agree in that it's well done, but also question the context. The signs are critical of social groups stating they are empowering drug dealing and it's rare that side of the fence is subject of artistic criticism. "LA CAN" is a grassroots organization from Skid Row and it's certain that LA CAN's supporters are the ones who took down that sign.
I agree, too. LA's downtown is a unique case, the zone's failures having (in the way of such things) a complicated array of fathers, but blaming advocacy organizations for the blight of drugs is not only backwards, but also encodes the right's false assumption that if those hard-working, overmatched folks weren't out there, there would by definition be less dealing, homelessness or addiction. That wishful thinking is unsupported by the history of drugs in major cities before the rise of modern advocacy, as well as by the drug problems in today's rural municipalities who have had nowhere near the same level of "rights"-centered advocacy that places like LA or NYC have had and yet are experiencing explosive growth in addiction and the like.
This is an arbitrary, generalizing swipe, but what I don't understand is why View from a Loft is surprised to see this kind of message from "artists." For every Gronk that has lived downtown for years, there are a dozen, skateboard-riding, post-graffiti, collectible-making, like, guys, whose politics strike me as being roughly aligned to those of the cast of Jackass. To those folks, black addicts are just the inevitable back-drop to the big, bad city, (required back-drop, even) and anyone working to make those folks' lives better is a bleeding rube, a maroon or a gay girl. So me, I'm not surprised by the signs at all.
August 29, 2006
one year later
A year ago I had just moved into my apartment in Downtown LA. It was a happy, auspicious move for me, but in many ways (most?) I was completely freaked-the-fuck out. I had just left a high-stress (but lucrative) gig under generally annoying circumstances, and I had also just moved to a new city where I knew few people and certainly didn't have the socio-professional network I was leaving back on the East Coast. The oft-touted attractions of LA - the beaches, the mountains, the industry - are of limited interest to me, and my new neighborhood was tripping me out as well, our spacious loft situated in a zone that is not so much post-apocalyptic as it is post-virtual, the streets seemingly stocked by some invisible programmer with quasi-autonomous non-player-characters from a game I barely understood and less wanted to play. There was piss everywhere and our building was full of very nice folks who claimed I'd soon be feeding on a uniquely downtown nutrient that they shorthanded as "the energy," but that I quickly came to believe was an essence distilled from the suffering of downtown's largely black and male homeless population. It seemed completely crazy to live here, but I do/did, so I very understandably came (by various associative and commutative properties) to think of myself as completely crazy as well.
Being primed by the peculiar mental state I was this time last year, it didn't take much for me to see Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath as a world ending sign. It seemed at first the stuff of myth, and then when nothing happened except suffering piled on suffering it made myth seem beside the point, if for no other reason than there is no book in any testament where the exile or death of large numbers of black people portends anything in particular. That kind of thing is just business as usual, a heckuva job.
I had somehow contrived to get to the west coast before the truck with all my furniture and comfort infrastructure, so my girlfriend and I spent the first few weeks of our new existence living like mildly discomfited squatters, sleeping on a too-small futon, not enough underwear, eating the same take-out over and over. (The grub choices downtown after dark are fairly constrained.) We in no way imagined that our situation bore any relationship to what the displaced survivors of the hurricane were going through, but we did wonder if some new regime had somehow been instituted, some line in history crossed where diminishment and deprivation would increasingly be the norm. What if there is an earthquake we wondered? A dirty bomb in a truck? What if it happens before my books and my telescope and my tools get here? Before I can imagine taping the windows up and putting towels under the door and making a brave face forthe Lady and saying, well. At least we can catch up on our reading. We had the feeling that something like the loss of an entire city must by definition permanently re-order the basic facts of life for everyone, and the feeling felt incontrovertible for a few weeks, inevitable, world historical. And then the truck arrived. The first thing I did was break out my drill so I could build a flight of vaguely cubist stairs to get us up to our loft bed as easily as possible. I moved the good TV so that I could watch it while I was working. When I was done all I could think was that the stairs look nice and that it really is true that there is no meaningful outrage to be had among the comfortable.
Before the arrival of the truck we obsessively followed the coverage of the disaster on a busted TV that had been left in the loft by the previous occupant. It served up pictures and sound, but they were fucked-up pictures and sound, the images and audio distorted as if fighting the grip of some powerful electromagnet, perhaps a tractor beam. I didn't think to take a picture of the images of Katrina as processed by that TV, but I did record an image of James Blake playing Andre Agassi in last year's US Open. We aren't even tennis fans and the tv's funny flicker gave me a headache, but we rooted for Blake all the way anyway, structuring our evenings around the matches. Watching the Open offered us a kind of useful normal, an easy counterbalance to the other images that were still streaming from the screen all day long. We weren't even disappointed when Blake finally lost, made no half jokes about him letting the race down. Instead, we mentally thanked him for all those well-layed matches. There's always next year, we said.
Next year is here now. Looking back my introduction to LA I am amazed that I stayed here, think: you were kind of out of your head. But what else was there to do in September of 2005 besides go a little off? The moment seemed to call for it, and the subsequent return to a livable middle suggests the simultaneous advent of both real relief and of complete retreat. Slavoj Zizek has a line about utopia where he says (and I'm paraphrasing) that utopias can't be pre-imagined, that the impulse towards utopia is something that strikes you like lightening when you find yourself at a life-or-death juncture, which is to say, precisely when the choice before you is a new world or death. I imagine that thousands of people likely had that lightening strike moment in New Orleans last year, that for the vast majority it came too late to do them any good. You couldn't count the possibilities that drowned after the levees broke, but how many are being pieced together day by day in isolation, away from the television, fragile and portentous? Sitting in my loft the way I still do, watching the various feeds, would I know a utopia if I met one? I want to say "probably not" because I'm negative that way, but really: it's impossible to say. It's only been a year, and you can't tell anything in a year.
Posted by ebogjonson at 3:53 PM | Permalink
June 21, 2006
You have new Picture Mail!
ever since my GF brought this dress home from Downtown LA's Santee Alley it's been stalking her
May 21, 2006
home, severed/explosive home
1 - The severed roast duck head pictured above was found on the sidewalk outside my apartment in Downtown LA today. Sitting off-frame to the bottom left was a homeless man, his face broken, pockmarked and smeared with what I am assuming was duck grease. He seems satisfied, tosses crumbs at pigeons.
Meanwhile, the duck head seems to be smiling.
2 - The news article below was found on the internets:
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A simulated suicide bombing will be filmed in downtown Los Angeles this weekend in a campaign by prominent Iraqis who want to dissuade the bombers who have wreaked a devastating toll on their country.
The 60-second edited film, a simulation of a Baghdad marketplace bombing that will kill or injure 200 people, will air on Iraqi TV in six weeks. [full story]
3 - Crazy fucking town, right? Simulated horrors contest with actual ones for your attention, producing cognitive dissonances, leisure schizophrenias. Because even though it doesn't look like it from that lo-res snap, that duck was totally smiling at me.
Posted by ebogjonson at 2:57 PM | Permalink
May 19, 2006
there are actually more like 10 to 12 differences
The next time somebody asks you what the differences between New York and Los Anegeles hipsters are, tell them there's at least 10,000 different reasons in just this photo. Then make them name them all. [got to the pic]
hat tip gawker
Posted by ebogjonson at 1:23 PM | Permalink
April 19, 2006
photo blog test (and a coffee shop view) (updated)
The view from a table in front of the Bishop coffee shop.
Let me indulge in some random geekery: My mobile photo blogging solution has been to take low-res snaps with my Treo 600, which I then "share" via Sprint's picture mail service. I don't particularly like the results, but I'm locked into my provider (mostly by inertia) and disinclined to upgrade my phone. (Sprint doesn't offer the Treo 700w yet in my area and the camera on the 650 doesn't seem like a meaningful of an improvement.)
The workaround displayed above involves taking a better res snap with my Nikon (at 1024; more pixels take forever to upload), swapping SD cards between cam and Treo, mailing snap to Flickr, which automatically blogs and ta da.
The next gambit I intend to try will involve uploading snaps directly to my server from the Treo. (Using movable type? Is that even possible?) Stay tuned for further updates in random wonkery...
update: the browser I'm using on the Treo screws up the MT publishing interface. any suggestions?
Posted by ebogjonson at 1:29 PM | Permalink
April 14, 2006
the kids are not so alright
CalArts fashion show; dominant style was French aristo party in the days and hours before the guillotine.
Posted by ebogjonson at 11:53 PM | Permalink
Los Angeles Yale '90 reunion; Brian Watt and unknown Yale Negro at Library Alehouse in Santa Monica.
Posted by ebogjonson at 3:47 PM | Permalink
too much posse
PF at the Library Alehouse in Santa Monica.
Posted by ebogjonson at 3:44 PM | Permalink
March 24, 2006
Random LA MOCA party
Where I was this Friday.
Posted by ebogjonson at 9:34 PM | Permalink
March 9, 2006
500 coffeeshops to go before I sleep
Found this on Slashdot:
Cubicles: The great mistake Even the designer of the cubicle thinks they were maybe a bad idea, as millions of 'Dilberts' would agree.
Robert Oppenheimer agonized over building the A-bomb. Alfred Nobel got queasy about creating dynamite. Robert Propst invented nothing so destructive. Yet before he died in 2000, he lamented his unwitting contribution to what he called "monolithic insanity."
Propst is the father of the cubicle. More than 30 years after he unleashed it on the world, we are still trying to get out of the box. The cubicle has been called many things in its long and terrible reign. But what it has lacked in beauty and amenity, it has made up for in crabgrass-like persistence.
The cubicle was not born evil, or even square. It began, in fact, as a beautiful vision. The year was 1968. Nixon won the presidency. The Beatles released The White Album. And home-furnishings company Herman Miller (Research) in Zeeland, Mich., launched the Action Office. It was the brainchild of Bob Propst, a Coloradan who had joined the company as director of research.
After years of prototyping and studying how people work, and vowing to improve on the open-bullpen office that dominated much of the 20th century, Propst designed a system he thought would increase productivity (hence the name Action Office). The young designer, who also worked on projects as varied as heart pumps and tree harvesters, theorized that productivity would rise if people could see more of their work spread out in front of them, not just stacked in an in-box.
The new system included plenty of work surfaces and display shelves; partitions were a part of it, intended to provide privacy and places to pin up works in process. The Action Office even included varying desk levels to enable employees to work part of the time standing up, thereby encouraging blood flow and staving off exhaustion.
But inventions seldom obey the creator's intent. "The Action Office wasn't conceived to cram a lot of people into little space," says Joe Schwartz, Herman Miller's former marketing chief, who helped launch the system in 1968. "It was driven that way by economics."
[Stewart Brand, co-creator of the Whole Earth Catalog] says that the most productive people he knows have developed ways to work outside offices, not in them. Brand himself worked out of a converted shipping container in Sausalito for seven years and now commutes to a beached fishing boat a few yards from his house. He sees two workspaces rising up to compete with the modern office: homes and what might be called the third space--i.e., Starbucks.
I've got a fairly narrow rotation of "third spaces" that includes the above pictured Groundworks Cafe in Downtown, LA. Having access to range of sunny public spaces, each with their own mood and tenor, is amazing, but they all also have their own unique distractions - bad music, for example, or the seductions of eavesdropping or over-immersion in the (perceived) lives of the staff. Then there's what me and my cafe buds like to shorthand as TML -> Too Many Ladies.
Another thing is that the ubiquity of wireless access means that the great, subversive weapons in humanity's fight against the bosses (loafing, IM, debating whether or not that forward is "work friendly") suddenly become weapons against yourself in a cafe.
Time permitting (wink-wink; what else do you have but time when cruising the wireless-enabled coffeeshops of LA) I'll upload more pics of the various places.
February 19, 2006
din din in LA
Dinner with the various peoples in LA.
February 13, 2006
art for the SoCAL massive
My partner in crime (Ingrid v. Sydow) is showing some work in a group show at the Palos Verdes Art Center. The exhibit's called "Bling," and features Ms. Ingrid and 7 other artists currently working in the SoCal.
Curator Mark Steven Greenfield describes the show: "I elected to go with one 'bling' to attract your attention to what I consider to be some of the brightest emerging artistic talent in Southern California. All of these artists exude a quiet self confidence and refined sense of commitment to their vocation that distingushes them from the norm."
Well said, Mark Steven Greenfield. Well said!
The exhibit runs until 3.30. The Palos Verde Art Center is located at:
5504 West Crestridge Road
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275 (mapish)
If you make it out, let me know
Posted by ebogjonson at 4:54 PM | Permalink
December 10, 2005
31 things about the neighbor who fucks too much
1 - You and your live-in girlfriend are pretty high on your sexual high-horses until you realize that in the loft next door is one of those neighbors who fucks too much.
2 - You figure you and your lady have a sex life that is the cat's pajamas until you start keeping tabs on the neighbor who fucks too much.
3 - It's a little embarrassing riding the elevator with a neighbor who fucks too much just after she's been, like, fucking.
4 - It's a little annoying when one of the many guys the neighbor who fucks too much is fucking knocks on your door at 2 am. Coming or going, you wonder. He is drunk enough to be either.
5 - You are grudgingly impressed that anyone that drunk is able to fuck a neighbor who fucks too much.
6 - The neighbor who fucks too much is white. You are not. You want to make something out of that fact, but keep coming up dry.
7 - A neighbor who fucks too much is disquieting. She keeps her windows too open for December in LA.
8 - The neighbor who fucks too much is, like you, unbounded by normal clock time and so soon starts invading your late night writing oasis. Usually DSL and pROn are your biggest nemeses at that hour, sneaking into your apartment on a wire and then launching an offensive via the closest unguarded eye, but now the neighbor who fucks too much is bringing the ruckus through your earhole. At that hour your ears are always open, alternately eager for silence and streams, and her attack strikes you as a Wrath of Khan-type maneuver. Montalbanian. Could she be trying to control your mind? Is her orgasm an invisible, burrowing wig?
9 - The neighbor who fucks too much makes you 10 again in the middle of the night, except you do not have to hide in the bathroom to call the 976 number. There is no undoing on its way to your parents in the mail with the monthly bills. You are a grown man after all.
10 - You and your girlfriend thought it was funny that time your IPod started whispering "hey bitch, wait'll you see my dick" while the neighbor who fucks too much was fucking. It's the only time your girlfriend ever laughs at the Ying Yang Twins.
11 - You make a playlist for the neighbor who fucks to much. It includes Cody Chestnutt, the Detroit Grand Pubahs, Dj Assault, Peaches, the Fat Truckers, The Ying Yang Twins, Fannypack, Missy Elliot, Luke, David Banner, Lil Louis, Akinyele, screwed and chopped Khia, and Kool Keith, shuffled and in no particular order.
12 - The neighbor who fucks too much has stupidly gynormous, theatrical orgasms. You think: liar who fucks too much. You think: or not?
13 - It really has to be on purpose. She is just too damned loud.
14 - On days your girlfriend seems porn friendly, you tell her the neighbor who fucks too much sounds like a bad porn actress. On days your girlfriend seems porn unfriendly, you tell her the neighbor who fucks too much sounds like a sick cat.
15 - It turns out that neighbor who fucks too much has an awful singing voice. She sings Carly Simon tunes while she fries eggs, feeding her partners at all hours. You pat yourself on the back for your endless ability to be surprised by human vagary.
16 - As far as you can tell, the drag queen neighbor in the other loft doesn't fuck at all, until the day he does and roars like a Broadway lion. It makes you smile and blush the next time you see him. You pat yourself on the back for your endless ability to be surprised by human vagary.
17 - It's a good idea to wait until (at least) two hours after the neighbor who fucks too much has finished fucking before trying to initiate any sex of your own.
18 - If the neighbor who fucks too much starts fucking while you're fucking, try not to lose focus and possible wood by debating (internally) whether or not you should stop.
19 - There is no competition with a neighbor who fucks too much. (Is there?)
20 - If you and the neighbor who fucks too much are fucking at the same time, avoid any and all appearance that you are indulging yourself in any kind of aural transposition or fantasy. Vary your stroke to put the neighbor who fucks too much outside your circle of intimacy. If her bed is creaking, switch to cunnilingus.
21 - If the addicts in the alley are shouting loud enough to give the neighbor who fucks too much pause, they are shouting loud enough for you to get involved, at the very least by calling the police.
22 - The neighbor who fucks too much has a strange ability to make your fucking quieter. It's not so much that you are listening, but ashamed. You wonder why.
23 - You swear for a week or two that the neighbor who fucks too much just has to be some kind of call girl. Thinking that the economies of scale at play next door are market-driven seems like a good way to maintain an upper hand, but after that every time you see her the slander shames you.
24 - You have a sneaking suspicion that the neighbors at the far end of the hall are trying to figure out if you and your girlfriend are the ones who are fucking too much.
25 - The neighbor who fucks too much went from dead silence to 3, 4 times a day just like that. You wonder if she was listening to you and your girlfriend all those months. And if so, how would she rate the two of you?
26 - Is it cheating if you started masturbating BEFORE the neighbor who fucks too much started fucking?
27 - None of the neighbor-who-fucks-too-much's partners make a sound while fucking her. They just smoke on the common patio before and after, use their cellphones. Their calls reference proclivities and interests that strike you as gay, either that or they all work as low-level assistants in Hollywood. You don't share any thoughts about their banalities with your lady love, as these thoughts reek of comparison and transference.
28 - You have a long, difficult conversation with yourself about whether or not you want to fuck the neighbor who fucks too much. You realize with some relief that this is a question that can be abstracted and generalized out of existence, in so much as it can be legitimately asked about just any porn star or stripper you have ever seen. Your girlfriend, who you love because her timing is so perfect, decides about then that they are making porn next door. It helps your girlfriend forgive the neighbor who fucks too much. Everyone has got to make a buck, she figures.
29 - The neighbor who fucks too much keeps a dirtier apartment than you do just like your girlfriend expected her to. Go figure.
30 - The neighbor who fucks too much often wakes the cat, who thinks it's morning and wants to be fed. He curls up like a kitten in the crook of your arm once he's full, leaving you awake in the dark, alone with the world. You wonder if this is what fatherhood feels like.
31 - If you lay bed awake, saying nothing to your girlfriend while the neighbor who fucks too much fucks, you and girlfriend will drift slightly apart the next day. If you grin at your girlfriend in the dark and say "she sure does fuck a lot" you will drift slightly closer together. This ebb and flow is wholly you and your lady's, and its rhythm in no way reminds you of the neighbor who fucks too much. You are grateful.
August 19, 2005
[the following was written yesterday and posted today. Which means today's post will likely be coming tomorrow.]
Getting ready for the big move LaLaish next week. The last five or so days have been marked by an inclining line of smallish detail and repetitive action - paying movers, turn-off calls, filling containers, throwing out trash, packing, post-packing - the peak/crescendo coming this morning with the near-simultaneous arrival and departure of the flatbed conveying my containers west. I watched the truck leave and then stood on my soon-to-be ex-sidewalk for an uncomfortable while wondering what I should be feeling, but the best I could come up with was "empty." Between the packing and the long good-byes (to a live TiVo, for example, and Mike and me's project to watch every episode of Angel) I hadn't sleep all night, and as I stumbled off to Mike's to crash (my own bed being gone) I felt disoriented, disembodied, weightless.
Except for the trash on the floor, all my shit is gone. I kept thinking this on the short walk to Mike's. I am completely fucking shitless.
Moving always inspires unpleasant confrontations of the me-on-me sort. I have no reckoning of the hours I've put into contemplating yellowed scraps of paper, but they must number in the dozens. Each scrap was not so much a record as a branching where I was asked to choose between literally shredding the past and wallowing in it. Documents related to youthful financial indiscretion were the most powerful talismans, as were the physical traces of the proverbial pussy hunt. Old receipts, unpaid bills, scary tax documents, collection notices for accounts (ATT celly?) I forgot I had, the transcript of my brief and incomplete brush with graduate education, emphatic letters from long-gone lovers, manuscripts, drafts - whether shredded or piled they comprised a not-so-thin layer of detritus left over from a kind of negative New Years, a non-celebration honoring a pernicious strain of memory where the past lingers in perpetuity as debilitating anti-possibility.
Contemplating the draft documents was a whole special kind of hard. Why do I have so many drafts? I wish the answer was "because I'm a writer," but the hermetic nature of my output suggests quite the opposite. I'm actually a hoarder, a lexical retentive who shits out literal piles of it in order to better fill the bottom of desk drawers. In the last few days I've held in my hands two short novels, maybe ten stories, card stacks for at least six screenplays. All of it unpublished/unshot, of course. Who knew I had been so fruitlessly productive? Some of this shit is so old, it's printed in dot matrix on perforated paper and comes topped off by now incomprehensible headers identifying long-disappeared printer locations, the printer at the old 824 Broadway Village Voice building, for example. There's a Virgin and a multiplex at 824 now, has been for years.
Now that the moving is done, I think it'll be good to get the fuck out of here and perform another memory purge in LA. (I packed the shredder.) I'm infinitely grateful to Cambridge/MA for being the place where I met Ingrid and Mike, and I'm glad for the many, many other amazing people this place brought into my life. Still, I can't say that I'll look back to the last three years as much more than an interregnum, a transitional zone where I sat back a bit and let some of the lies I'd been telling myself about my career run their course and collapse. The day-job I had here is ultimately what taints this place. The more late nights I put into my gig, the more I sacrificed, the more my ascent was linked to constructive engagement with organizations/persons I had previously found objectionable, the more the gig itself became a matter of interpreting fickle organizational mandates (as opposed to following core creative or ethical precepts) - well, the more of all that, and the more hollowed out I was becoming. What will likely endure feels less than the sum of my recent effort: a few sterling lines added to my resume, an impressive salary history, a raft of lessons learned, a more-than-passing acquaintance with the great crack of mediocrity that runs like an active fault-line through the world and (by virtue of an awful distributive property) myself.
Fuck it. What I need to do is to accept the gifts of this time (friends, the lady, the man's money in my pocket) and learn its lessons (bought-out corporate negroes are boring, white corporate negroes are worse; strive to work for self or for the undeniably like minded; speak and lead under my own steam and in my own name, as opposed to with/under the sign system of the various media machines) without wallowing in the oddly soothing pleasure of scab-picking. Which means fuck this too, i.e., this posting, or at the very least the tone/modality this posting represents. These words are a form of dangerous and constricting self-abuse (auto-asphyx without the eros), and now that I've adequately indulged myself - look at the time! - it's off to the enormous room to see some people I like and will greatly miss. These are people who will tell me to stop whinging when they read these words, people who tonight will stare brightly into my face to ask/demand if I'm excited about my move. Their belief in the world's possibilities will beam out at me like a searchlight. They've (god know why) decided that I'm a reliable mirror for their faith, and I'll not dishonor them or it by blah-blah-blahing the shit on my floor into an existential metaphor.
It's just the most banal of facts, really. There's inevitably some shit left on the floor when you move, doubly so when you like to keep things and think about them. No more and no less.
August 8, 2005
late rizer (updated 8.9.05)
Finally got around to seeing David LaChapelle's much-hyped Rize last night. Overall verdict is that I'm glad to have been introduced to krumping and its putative inventor Tommy the Clown, but my feeling of gratitude doesn't extend to director LaChappelle. The images of dancers and dancing LaChapelle recorded make for genuinely great clips (thanks, Dave!), but the non-dancing parts of the doc suffer from a woeful lack of ambition and imagination.
I'd deliberately avoided Rize while apartment hunting in LA last month, as bounding out to see it at that particular juncture felt like self-conscious (cynical?) geographic bandwagon jumping. (Kind of like someone moving to NYC post 9/11 and immediately trying to autodidact/google themselves into terror connoisseur status, if not quite veteran.) Being introduced to a given black scene by any form of professional media (alternative weeklies, for example, or independent films) always induces a series of anxieties in me - jealousy that I hadn't gotten there before Livingston, followed by depression at having projected myself into the Livingston (native informant?) slot in the first place. Rize is just a rote journey of pseudo-discovery, though, so the worst I experienced was a newbie-Angeleno's cartographic confusion about the neighborhoods and streets depicted on screen. (South LA vs South Central, anyone?)
Outside of scoring cool points for the director and tugging at liberal heartstrings, Rize's main conceptual ambition seems to be winning the essentialist side-bet that's played out between the dance sequences and ghetto uplift set-pieces. LaChapelle uses soundtrack, ethnographic source footage and his subjects' pre-installed conceits about the souls of black folk to craft a kind of Afrocentrism-for-Dummies sub-plot, one where the goal is to go from West Africa to Watts in as few steps as possible. Unfortunately, Rize lacks the context or rigor to succeed as any kind of anthropology or ethnography, being instead a kind of Dr. Phil meets Robert Farris Thompson amalgam where getting out of bed while poor and black is enough to earn you installation as a streetcorner santero, mambo or houngan. In that kind of slack, credulous cultural framework, krumping's somatic innovation (pop your chest and ass fast enough and some curious-looking shit happens) isn't offered for consideration as African American dance, but for consumption as a tasty piece cultural resistance cut from the eternal mystery meat (loin?) of a transcendental, Afro-Atlantic ecstasy.
Don't get me wrong: I'm not arguing we should throw the conceit of Afro-Atlantic ecstasy out the window. I wouldn't presume to cut a movie about a place I'd never been to pieces unless I believed I was armed/authorized by some formed of unique underlyingness, be it blackness or good filmmaking or conceptual consistency. The problem is that Rize doesn't take its own premise seriously enough to interrogate it. The now-and-foreverist cultural frame lets LaChapelle off the hook of having to put any effort into getting beneath the thick layer of ghettocentric cliche that krumping swaths itself in the second it aspires to the status of movement. By taking everyone and everything at face/dance value, Rize effectively forecloses whole potential avenues of exploration, like, for example, how krumping connects (or not) to Hollywood's various vogues of the black dancer, from breakdancing flicks to the ubiquitous stripper of hip hop video and movies. (It would have been nice for LaChapelle to note that while the early masterworks of b-boy cinema are set in the Bronx, almost all the later commercial successes - Breakin', or You Got Served - take place in LA.)
And speaking of vogues: what's with how so many of the male dancers in Rize scanned (to me at least) as queer? (My gaydar was probably primed by intertextual background noise about LaChappelle and his photographic "muse," transsexual Amanda Lapore, with a less work-friendly image here.) Gay, straight or indifferent, how masculinity gets performed in krumping was worthy of more explicit excavation, but the purportedly unabashed LaChappelle keeps a strangely chaste distance from the question, this even as his camera soaks in images of black men daintily applying make-up, or prowling across leopard-print satin sheets, or squatting down to do the stripper dance, beefy ass cheeks flying. Gender provocateur Chapelle takes up the question of the stripper dance from an entirely heterosexual and parental POV, i.e., is it "nasty" for an eight year old girl to slide her crotch across the floor like a dog with worms. (Rize's answer - surprise, surprise - is an emphatic "no.") Sure, as numerous on-screen informants testify, the stripper dance has long evolved past its origins as a form of female sexual display. But the film's actual ass-enabled sequences belie the feint towards asexual respectability, each enthusisatic twerk articulating a clearly gendered grammar governing when and where the ass is to be deployed in anyone's face. (It's largely absent in hyper-masculine inter-crew battles, which focus on the chest, but seems fine in ecstatic, familial intra-crew ciphers. A third form of usage comes in the crews who disavow use of the stripper dance altogether, their forbearance bandied about like a point of honor.)
Rize confers on Tommy the Clown the credit for inventing krumping by combining his clown schtick with the stripper dance. (Although most people seem to buy Rize's chronology there is inevitably some controversy about this.) You can easily riff your way through a plausible chain of ass-causality starting with Tommy: clown gets to doing the stripper dance in the largely female and todder-lish arena of the ghetto birthday party, dance jumps a few gridlines thanks to that viral-culture-mutant thing, and all of a sudden young black men all over LA are escaping the dangers of gang life by getting down on all fours and shaking their money-makers like, well, their lives depended on it. It's a wonderfully loopy and clearly incomplete scenario whose twists, turns and decision points would have made for a great documentary. Too bad LaChapelle lacked the courage (or the engagement) to film it.
Posted by ebogjonson at 12:56 AM | Permalink
August 5, 2005
wherein I dream about school, time travel, Saabs, girlfriends ex and otherwise, Hustle and Flow, and the Pacific Coast Highway....
At some point (mid-point? I can only recall the second half of the dream) I decide I need to research successfully sold and produced screenplays if I'm ever to become a screenwriter. [Some solid backstory: Wesley had called me the previous day to discuss a film idea.] Towards this end, I somehow identify (Craigslist? Black Filmmaker's Yahoo group?) a guy who can help me, who I then meet on a street corner somewhere in LA - West Hollywood-ish. He's brown-skinned, short, skinny, bespectacled. His hair is oily, post-curl. He carries the screenplay for Hustle and Flow in a ziplock-type plastic bag with a handle, a disposable briefcase. In another ziplock bag is the fat stack of index cards which preceded the script, dude obviously having run into one of the innumerable writing gurus who recommend the index card thing. (Think Robert Mckee.)
Dude hands me the materials and walks off. He isn't Craig Brewer, the white writer-director who actually made Hustle in the solid, but I accept the work as his own and promise to get it back to him in the next few days. Why he is doing this for me isn't made clear in the dream.
The dream shifts and I am visiting my high school/college. It's only a physical shift: I'm still my own age and know that I graduated successfully with my high school diploma and BA years ago. What few students I encounter all seem old enough to be college juniors, but the physical plant is that of my solid high school back in Queens, NYC. I wander the halls until I find the wing (east? west?) that looks down Francis Lewis Boulevard. I stand at the window at the end of that hall for a spell, staring south with some sadness towards what used to be my home. I'm not sure what year it is outside the window. 2005? 1986? 1995, perhaps? I try to deduce my temporal location from the gear on the street (I am pulling for 1986, hoping to spy some pinstripe Lee Jeans) but there are too few kids out for me to make any judgments. The best information I have is the lush green of the trees along Francis Lewis and the angle of the sun. They suggest that I'm visiting late in the day in July or August. School's out and the summer session doesn't take the entire day.
I press my nose against the window. It's refrigerator cool. I imagine throwing myself against the pane and falling, take stock of the height and run a mental projection of glass spray backwards and forwards. I don't intend to kill myself, thrilling instead at the thought that breaking through the boundary will somehow turn the clock back, make me new again.
There is a sudden commotion in the school behind me. One of the students, a tall, lanky Arab/Mediterranean/Latino/South Asian kid (reader's choice, as long as he's brown) has been stung by a bee. He's allergic and his distress takes the form of hyperventilation and a fakey paralysis. He can't move his arms or legs, can't get out of his chair, but he does manage a dopey, secretive half smile. It strikes me as a strange expression for a potentially dying man. It reminds me of the mugshot of the British terror suspect under arrest in Italy. A few days later someone had made a joke about his lawyer being do-able in a uniquely Italian, MILF-ish kind of way, which, I had countered with the observation that the mother in last season's 24 was a TILF - i.e., a Terrorist I'd Like to Fuck.
This isn't a sex dream, so soon I find myself helping the bee-stung boy's teacher and some of the other students carry him down the back stairs to the nurse's office. He's about 6'4" or so, making for slow going. One of the people helping turns out to be my ex-girlfriend Rachel. We carry the kid into the nurse's office, which doubles as the nurse's bedroom. She's kind of an old bag, the nurse, but she reclines on a mid-century modern daybed in a parody of seduction nonetheless, her white skirt riding up ancient thighs, her flesh-colored stockings a wrinkled ruin due to an unseemly loss of elasticity. She's smoking and doesn't bother to get up, telling us to leave the bee-stung boy on the matching daybed that has previously been hidden under a huge pile of junk - ashtrays, empty cigarette cartons, magazines and old pantyhose. As I leave, I glance back into the office and decide that the nurse bears more than a passing resemblance to one of the nuns who taught at my high school.
[In the solid this particular nun also ran the college admissions office and for years I'd held a grudge against her for her failure to urge me to apply to any Ivy League schools. It was another counselor (Mr. Milano?) who pushed me towards Yale at the last possible moment in spite of what I remember as the nun's vague disapproval. Left to her devices I'd have gone to St. Johns, NYU at best. Not the worst of fates - NYU's film program had been my dream until Mr. Milano introduced me to Yale and its various deconstructions - but I never shook the feeling that had I been Irish or Italian she might have been better able to imagine me in New Haven.]
Next up: I'm sitting in the dean's office with Rachel and some other people. The change in scene effects another geographical shift, as the dean's office is in California. I take note of the air temperature and the moisture and make an internal declaration that we're in Santa Barbara, maybe Ojai. The dean is Rachel's father, an odd thing seeing how the man in my dream is an addled, desiccated, British snob and solid Rachel is one of those wry, livewire Jewish girls from a Michigan college town. For some reason or another I lend the script and the cards to Rachel and decide to drive back down to LA. I'm in Ingrid's car, a sporty red Saab, and it's a beautiful day. I don't know how to drive a stick but I'm flying down the Pacific Coast Highway in fifth gear anyway. I'm a little filled with awe at the ocean off to my right even though I know that behind me to the north sit stretches of mountain and water unlike any I've ever seen and that, moreover, I've been ill-equipped to properly imagine by years of city dwelling. I make a mental note to take the drive north with Ingrid when I get a chance. I get to thinking it would have been foolish to jump out that window back in Queens.
The dream starts to sputter and shake just then like a car running out of gas. Three things happen nearly at once:
1 - Dude who gave me the screenplay and the index cards calls my cell and asks for them back. He explains that Hustle and Flow opened #1 on the box office while I was away (back east?) and for some reason this means he needs the materials back ASAP. Even though I know the movie didn't open that well, I congratulate him and tell him I'll have the Ziplock bags back in LA by evening. As I turn the car around, it occurs to me that if I'm stopped for speeding and my car is searched the bags could be mistaken for drugs. I take note of the speed limit, lay off the gas.
2 - The dean's office in Santa Barbara/Ojai turns into a publicist's office. Rachel turns into an imaginary British film publicist named Thelma and her fake father, the dean, turns into a writer/editor I know in the solid. As I walk into the room Thelma announces that I'm not to worry: she has already shipped the script and the cards back to Craig Brewer. This gives me a moment's pause and I spend the rest of the dream waiting for an angry phone call from the dude who actually gave me the script and cards. It never comes.
I try to make writer-on-publicist chitchat with Thelma in hopes of getting back onto her particular advance screening list, but I'm inhibited by the awkwardness I feel around the writer/editor. A few years ago he had asked me to write a piece for an anthology he was editing and I'd never delivered. Unfortunately, a number of websites had promoted the upcoming book using an early, pre-publication press release that listed me as a contributor, and these pages sit in my google results to this day like non-disputable negative entries in some unholy editorial credit score. The pages are like virtual thorns embedded in the skin of my ego and self-esteem, and anyone associated with the project could easily pluck them out - if only they hadn't moved on with their lives years ago. The thought of those pages being out in the world makes me crazy, makes me feel like the web itself is some kind of malevolent antagonist, makes me feel sick with self-disgust, all of this despite the fact that there were other writers listed on that press release who also didn't make it into the solid anthology. Do they cringe every time they see those false positives, I wonder?
3 - Ingrid is in the Saab with me. We're somewhere between LA and Santa Barbara/Ojai. In the solid the two of us had taken a trip north along this same coast this past spring, spending a few days in a B&B in Santa Barbara. I had driven a rented car and she had videotaped me as I sang along to the radio, my tunelessness inter-cut with great swaths of majestic, empty ocean. This time around she's driving and I sit camera-less, watching her and watching her until morning.
Posted by ebogjonson at 10:19 AM | Permalink