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A Conversation w/ Richard Powers



I feel compelled to talk today about

Andrea Zittel

and housework, which I detest.

I’m organized, but I really hate cleaning; you spend all of your time doing something that will eventually just go back to its previous state.

When I was living in a house with my ex, in California, we both stopped cleaning,and our mess just got to a state of equilibrium after awhile.

But anyway, you clean and then it gets dirty again, but if you spend time doing something creative, likebuilding something, you’d actually have forward motion as opposed to the stasis of a repetitive act.”

-Andrea Zittel/Spring 2001


11:ooPM last night as the sound of jack hammers started up again.

Q:Why doesn’t the city of New York have any “quality of life” rules about State Workers ripping up the sidewalk right in front of your house at 8:01PM until 10:59PM with jackhammers that are really,really, fucking loud? The word unconscionable comes to mind. I wonder if road crews that work in residential neighborhoods get rocks and stuff thrown at them a hell of a lot. I was really pretty much going to find out for myself. Bastards.


This brings me round to the general moral level around here. I found this small interview last week with an ex-British writer Joseph O’Neill, and his thoughts about the current state of things:

Q:So the WTC disaster has altered your perception of the city?

A:To live in New York was to draw on the energy of a collective adventure. But now the story has changed The collective feeling is now one of fear and anxiety,and it is impossible to separate the self from the whole. New York no longer offers what it once did, which I think was life at its most playful.

I unfortunately thoroughly agree.


Another British writer, Zadie Smith shares a piece of her mind in this letter to the editor and gives us a bit of food for thought on writing as well.


As a counter balance, I see the Village Voice brings us “The Best of New York 2001” issue this week. Oh okay, I guess my perfect day in NYC would be closest to the one Toni Schlesinger describes in careful detail. Especially dinner. I could use a dose of Bamonte’s right about now.


7Am this morning

Q:Sidekick:Did you hear they were jack hammering at 3:AM in the morning?

A: I slept through that?


“From the kitchen my mother brought forth the succession of dishes: lentils with fried onions,green beans with coconut,fish cooked with raisins in a yogurt sauce.

I followed with the water glasses,and the plate of lemon wedges,and the chili peppers, purchased on monthly trips to Chinatown and stored by the pound in the freezer,which they liked to snap open and crush into their food.”

-When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine
Last night before dozing off to sleep I read the first two stories of Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies. I have come to the conclusion that fiction is the best possible escapism these days,and unlike most television can be truly enjoyed guilt free.

Lahiri is a very graceful writer. Being a particular sucker for any author who utilizes the ritual of food and daily life as a thematic centerpiece,she and I are off to a good start.

The first story A Temporary Matter can be found in its full state here.
The second story When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dinedetails the televised unfolding of the civil war in Pakistan,as being watched in a house that now calls America its home. Meanwhile, the main character,a young girl speaks of her American education,”That year, and every year,it seemed,we began by studying the Revolutionary War.


catarina.net had some thought provoking ideas yesterday on novels and people’s reading habits.

Recounting Shirley Brice Heath she writes:

She said that people who grow into avid readers in adulthood either had been “heavily modeled” by a parent who read serious books and encouraged the child to do the same, or the reader was a “social isolate” — a child who from an early age felt very different from everyone around him.


Finally Moira spotted an excellent article in yesterday’s NY Times about Haruki Murakami’sthoughts on the current state of terrorism. Murakami wrote the exhaustive book Underground concerning the Sarin attacks on the Tokyo’s subway system 6 years ago.


Mulholland Drive

Yes, there are those ubiquitous red drapes, always a harbinger of something.

As previously mentioned, I’m of the schooling that you’re either a David Lynch fan or you really are not. His current movie Mulholland Drive wedges this bias in a tad bit further. If you’re in the pro-Lynch camp, you’ll have no choice but to see this film, because you have been waiting for it for a long time.

Built in the sort of ways you have come to expect, his latest film is another study in macabre beauty. Throughout the course of MD’s 146 minutes I couldn’t help but contemplate how David Lynch started his visual career as a painter. The absolutely lush moodscape he creates from Los Angeles is a reminder of this.

Through out the film the color is stunning, and those vintage fixtures, details that spill out into every movie he makes, are beautifully there.

The only comment I’ll place on the plot, is to mention a sleuthing compulsion I had to remain in my seat as the credits rolled- to watch it all over again.

The finest praise I can give to this film was I found myself completely swept away, into a Lynchian world and out of my own head. The fact that I could buy that relief for ten dollars was worth every penny.


Footnote. I’ve always had some romantic imagery floating around in my head thanks to Lynch about how great it would to be, to find yourself sitting around in a Denny’s all day drinking coffee and writing. “Denny’s” is briefly touched upon in Mulholland Drive.


City of Absurdity, the Paintings of David Lynch


Interesting observations on the man himself, as seen by David Foster Wallace, circa: Lost Highway.



Hey, Josh is back. It looks like he cleaned his fishing rod.


Shirley you must be joking.

What was that line in that dumb but dumber movie from the early 1980’s Airplane, where the air traffic controller said,”Looks like I picked the wrong week to give up sniffing airplane glue“. Well, that’s pretty much sums up my sentiments at the moment.

That feeling of taking things with a grain of salt,being prudent,keeping a level head and taking this all in stride-has immediately shifted out of my left lobe and gone directly by the wayside. I am just none too thrilled to be sitting in an office building,a mere three blocks from the Empire State Building in mid Manhattan and reading this:

In a stark warning issued by the FBI…

Mean while back at the ranch, being selective about how much network news and briefings I am allowing into the other part of my brain that hasn’t been completely taken over by all this drama, I totally miss the factthat today was another election day in New York City. Probably even worse news is when I did go vote after work, I was the only one there.


Just as a total aside, did you know that Edie Falco plays the waitress in The Unbelievable Truth? I was watching it again about two months ago and I said,”oh my god, that’s Edie Falco.” She is just so great.
I STILL can not track down her movie that I really want to see called Judy Berlin. It is supposed to be really fantastic.


Just bad weird stuff to get you through the day

some call it filler……

It seems as if everyone is turning to religion these days.
Christian Record revivals seem to indicate a trend going in that direction.

If you are more likely to turn to
The Worst of the Worst,check out
See BJ Dowdy’s Bury Me At Wal Mart.

I am also loving this Museum of Weird Recordcollecting.
Please someone start reissuing hip pocket records.

In these times of crisis I think I would prefer to just die and go to
8 Track Heaven or the 24 Hour Church of Elvis.

Luckily my insomnia riddled brain only has so much to give.


Last week, my wonderful friend and neighbor Ken was kind enough to invite me along to a performance at The Kitchen.
It so happens the project presented that evening wasThe Logic of Birds, a multimedia offering by the Iranian born film maker Shirin Neshat. I previously had found myself very interested in her work,especially after reading this engaging article about her last fall.

I bring this up because suddenly I see Shirin Neshat everywhere. She is on my radar anyway. Today in a bookstore I noticed her imagery was gracing the front of Art In America. Yes,the work is very timely at the moment. I think as broad as this may sound- she offers up another insight into a culture that again as American’s we have a sparse knowledge base for. As you can see I am gathering wool.

In this current Logic performance/media presentation,
I was a little boggled by her use of dancers (too distracting).
The vocalist though, Sussan Deyhim, appears simultaneously during the performance live and on screen has a really amazing,haunting voice.
I now wish I had the opportunity to see more of Neshat’s cinematic work.


More Neshat via still photography:

“The Gun and the Gaze”.
Shirin Neshat’s photographs.



Okay, totally Off Topic. Either you love him or hate him- David Lynch.

I can’t wait to fork over my ten dineros. God,now I have something to live for…Mulholland Drive.

No, it really doesn’t take much.


A Factory of Facts

This NY Times piece in yesterday’s paper is more than just an art review. While focusing on some current NYC exhibitions of Islamic art and decoration, Holland Cotter veers off and goes on to explain (in layman’s terms) why you should find yourself in front of these objects.

What can be learned from seeing these works with your own eyes;
what can be garnered from learning about this culture:

For Westerners not fluent in Arabic, which is most Westerners, one of Islam’s defining aesthetic achievements must always stay at a certain remove: it’s as if you can see the written word but you can’t quite hear it, can’t viscerally feel it’s pulse, its vibration.

Intrigued, I realize I haven’t been to a single art museum recently, for all the chaos.

“To the jumpy, channel-surfing Western eye, these apparently symmetrical patterns, which can be extended forever and have no goal, give an impression of stasis, of nothing happening. But if you pay attention — and Islamic art requires attention and time — you start to see that that “nothing” is not only subtly varied and modulated but also constantly refashioned and revised to fit different forms and surfaces.”

Islamic architecture via ArtKrush.



I am a pathetically slow reader.
I was reminded of that this weekend.
I attempted to read a few chapters of Vollman’s Atlas that has been hanging around our house for awhile, unread.
I never quite got to his inclusion of Afghanistan.

When we were kids my sister and I would frequently have “word wars”, to see who could finish a book first. She would always win.


Not much else needed saying today.


Ever since this whole thing in New York City went down a few weeks ago,I have been wondering-
what would William T. Vollman have to say on the subject?

Vollman spent some of his formative journalistic years in Afghanistan and wrote a book,now out of print about those experiences (a book I am really itching to get my fingers on).

Last year he went back.

Luckily I came across this interview in Salon yesterday,which was published last Thursday. Vollman is a savvy writer and has some extremely well informed opinions. Although I do not agree with all of his tenets, I respect the scope of his knowledge immensely. I believe he is the honest kind of voice we need to hear more from these days.


Continuing Gareth’s Portland meme, last night on our local cornball Fox 5 News they ran a human interest story:
1000 Portlanders Come to Spend Time in the Big Apple.”(One of those pump up the economy/feel good/God Bless America stories). Unfortunately I can’t find a link to this veritable non story, but if you had been watching it, I imagine you would have thought it was REALLY funny. Reported by cranky news personality Penny Crone.


My sister reported to me that it was 101 degrees in her Northern Californian town yesterday. Now that is just not right. And here, people are still wearing flip flops on Fifth Avenue.

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.        – Albert Camus


Podular.net is making me hungry.


Urban Combatant

Jane Jacobs, is my new hero.


Here’s an insightful interview with her regarding her philosophies from Reason’s June 2001 issue.


Whenever I tell people I really miss Seattle they always say,
“Why don’t you move to Portland”?.
I can’t quite figure that one out yet. Has Seattle turned infinitely evil?
It certainly isn’t on this list of healthy cities.

My query has nothing to do with questioning the beauty of Portland at all, I am just curious why everyone is so apt to discourage the other option.
I miss the water.

Inquiring minds want to know.




Calling all John Waters fans…
Heh-heh! I have been waiting forever for this: the release of a twin DVD of Polyester/Desperate Living,and now they tell me that Liz Renay is featured on a commentary track? My day just got a whole lot brighter.
Other new bits:
The Autumn issue of Born Magazine hot off the “press”.
(I am fond of the bit about
Dante’s Bar).

wburg is supposed to update sometime today….
and the weather has truly convinced me that summer really is over.
Updated the Museum-Cheap-Night page.