Thursday, September 29, 2005
The Brown Line
My friends at work
My friends in theatre
My way of living for the past 6 years, hell the past 8 years.
I do feel like I'm going home, regardless I hear the music today, the Johns Williams music that tells me the movie is about to wrap. "Bob's Chicago Story" is about to wrap.
Friday, September 23, 2005
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Looks like I can do it for less than 2000. Which is great news. It means I'll still have a nice little nest egg by the time I get to Atlanta!
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
We didn't win that game. But, I did get to see my team once again live on the field. Not since the Yankees on 1997-1999, have I felt this close to a team. Regardless of whether or not we can hold back the tribe, I have grown to love these players and think of them as my guys, my team, my gang, my own.
So, I want to take a moment and be thankful for all the good times they gave me this month, to be thankful for Hawk and DJ whom I always enjoy listening to. I want to be thankful for the taste of those Brats, the best I've ever had, period...those silly t-shirt vendors outside.
Friday, September 16, 2005
I find myself shrugging my shoulders at this question. I don't know what makes 'good' theatre becuase everybody seems to want something different from their theatrical experiences.
To answer this question I have to come up with a successful definition of 'good' that deals not only with asthetics but also with concepts of universality.
The question itself, no matter how honest and sincere the interviewer, is itself a cliche, in that spirit...
I can only tell you that,
like obsenity, I know good theatre when I see it.
Like Jazz, if you have to ask you'll never know.
And like Fame, it usually only sticks around for 15 minutes but everybody gets a little of it sometime during the course of their life.
As a maker of Theatre, I wonder if we should aim at worrying about making 'good' theatre. I never try to make good theatre (save the puns please), I always try to make something that I want to watch. I don't know what the audience wants or thinks is good. I only know my own tastes.
I make theatre that I would want to see.
I also think that who is asking this question is always asking the wrong people. I don't think you need to ask actors or people with aspirations to perform this question. They will almost always perform their answers. Their answers will feel good, they will be littered with references to community, to humanity, to communicating...they will all have these tried, true and rote points in common. What was once truth is not trite, a trademark, a selling point.
Also, Artistic Directors, Directors of Marketing, and/or anybody who spends time wondering/worrying about the bottom budgetary line. Out of necessity, these people will always come up with answers that between the lines confirm their dearest hopes that an organization that is fiscally sound is that way becuase of good theatre/good marketing.
Marketing itself has become the most important aspect of theatre.
I forget who but someone famous once said 'Whenever I hear someone talking about community...I make sure to have a firm grasp of my wallet'. After a decade of fearful grant writing, this answers are now rote responses from would be dilletantes who were born 2 to 3 decades too late. These sort of responses are engineered to be what we think the audience wants to hear.
Good Theatre considers the needs of the community? And a duck goes quack...come on what else?
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
That makes 4 parks this season (Comisky, Wrigley, Turner, Miller)
Next Year I'm hoping for the following (Comisky, Turner, Camden, Pittsburgh, Tropicana)
I also bought another novelity shirt. I'm a sucker for those shirts. This one say that "Cardinals take it up their Pujols". For 10 bucks I couldn't resist.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
All I have to do now is hope, pray and post to get this chicago apt subletted.
I am also still waiting to get the confirmation regarding my apartment to be in Atlanta. I'm sure the later is fine. I just want to get the former done. You know?
I think I may have someone to purchase my bed from me. That is good. If that comes to pass then hurray!
It is actually happening. It hard to believe. But, I am happy and excited. Happier than I've been in a long while.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
So, If I don't get an answer from them by the end of the day as to whether or not I'm to vacate then I have to move forward with an October 30th move in date to Atlanta.
Frustrating confusing. I'm trying not to let the stress get to me. I woke up this morning and started having back spasms in the shower. I know it's just the stress which helps, but man o man. I want this parliament enterprise mgt out of my life.
Thursday, September 01, 2005
The Second Woman engulfs your vision. You don't see yourself entirely. You only see the parts of you that come into contact with the parts of her. They rest of you becomes irrelevant. Only now counts.
The First Woman makes you think about where you came from. You focus less on your ego and more on your actions in the past. You're looking at a map and wondering if you took a wrong turn.
You'll survive. You'll laugh and cry. You'll hold hands. But, you'll doubt. You'll itch. You'll question. You'll be thankful, and feel cheated at the same time. You'll settle.
And you'll wonder if settling for her will lead to all other sorts of personal settlements. Will you forget your own aspirations for glory. Are you convinced that your most exciting days are now behind you? Will you spent that money you were saving for a sports car instead on a canopy bed. Will you give up your favorite movies, favorite music, favorite books because they aren't to her taste.
You'll learn how to hide. You'll yearn for solitude. Once you have the solitude, you'll feel lonely. Good thing you're learning how to hide your anger.
She never wanted me, but still I had something she wanted. Or thought she wanted. She taught me my own limits of deception. Once she got within arms reach, she rendered my poker face pointless. I understood that to court this pandora would require a evolutionary climb, and I discovered such a scientific feat could occasionally be made though sheer will. With my back turned toward her, I'm thankful for the encounter. Facing her though, I feel resentment. Her perfect neck can never be fully possessed by it's beholder. I want to consume that neck. I want to use my teeth, like I would with a perfect apple.
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
The child thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world. The man can remember the feeling, but can't recapture it. We can look at toys, but we usually can't lose ours to them like when we were smaller.
Maybe, I should give myself some credit. Perhaps I'm not the only one who changed. Perhaps like any flower in the garden, she was bound to wilt. Why should i feel any guilt becuase once she was pert and full of pollen. If now she has venom, why should I accept fault? Why do I feel that I owe her something becuase once upon a time we were both wild and innocent?
Lost youth? Lost love? The turning of the solar system. I can't be blamed. I don't make the leaves turn during autumn.
It wasn't me.
It wasn't me?
Monday, August 29, 2005
The only disappointment was the Museum of Art. It just is trying to hard and as a result fails twice as bad.
I now have a regret. Not getting to Milwaukee sooner. If I ever had to come back north, I'd seriously consider landing there.
Friday, August 26, 2005
OK, this week was crazy. Tuesday at work, I started feeling a little nausea like a flu or something. I was in the bathroom 3 times in one hour, just turned into a crap machine. I left work early got on the train to go home. Then it hit me, I got extreme sweats, extreme dizziness, my stomach started cramping like there was no tomorrow. I thought to myself, this is it. Whatever you're body's been planning for the last 6 weeks, now it comes to a head.
I was attempting to transfer at Fullerton when everything fell apart. I stepped off one train onto the other and almost fainted. I stepped off the train back onto the platform and told the CTA lady I thought I needed an ambulence. She asked me, what I had said, and the next thing I was throwing up and praying to God over the trash can. This took I estimate about 2 or 3 minutes. I had nothing on my stomach except water and bile.
The striking thing I remember is being in this very public place having this crisis. People around me didn't know what to do. Dodgily avoiding eye contact, trying to no get involved with the man puking his insides out. I was alone in the crowd. I wanted to apologize to everyone around me. I wanted to assure them that even if I appear to be dying right now, I'm not so terrible monster you need to avoid. But, I didn't stay focused on them that much. I was still incredibly sick.
They got me to the hospital. They ran all kinds of tests. Becuase I had been experiencing stomach pain they did a CT to look for possible appendicitis. They did full blood and urine anaylsis. They found nothing. They found me to be soundly safely healthy. 'Maybe you had some food poisoning or a stomach flu. But, we're sending you home.'
Thursday, August 25, 2005
I'm going to miss hanging with Charles when I go to Atlanta. Hopefully he'll be down south too soon.
Monday, August 22, 2005
I guess my great fear at the moment is that I'm developing appendicitis. I'm afraid that I'm going to wake up sometime between now and my other doctor appointment squeezing my stomach in pain and be laid up in a hospital for weeks like Dad was laid out at home. Or maybe a hernia.
The second fear is that this is something that will delay or destroy my trip to Atlanta. Like some sort of self fulfilling prophecy. I started today asking myself seriously how I would manage if I had to stay in Chicago. I don't like that kind of thinking. I want to get past this town so bad. I dont think I can get past my hatred for the ugliness of this city.
Maybe it is nothing. I hope the first Dr was right. But, right now my body is telling me that he is wrong.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
I'm bored with these hollywoodish independent features about Suburban Malaise. About how ironic and absurd it is to be rich, white, and dysfunctional.
Am I the only one?
At least Donnie Darko was original adding the creepy sci-fi elements and the hidden neo-con evil angles.
At least Garden State was different in that it showed a protoganist yearning for that suburban malaise without even knowing it.
That's not to say that these films are poorly made or unwatchable. All I'm saying is, enough already! I get it!
I love Bill Murray, but after Lost in Translation, Life Aquatic, and Broken Flowers...Bill time for a regular comedy man...you've done the contempalitive autumn of my years thing to the hilt for the past 3 three years. Each film in itself is a great film, but one after another...ughhh...It's Ingmar Bergman without existentalism. Seeing these films has become yet another symptom of suburban malaise. It is like you're in an escher ink drawing.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
- White Sox
- Powells Downtown
- Barreycorn Football Sunday - having the place all to myself
- My pals at the ESPNZone
- Harold Washington Library
- Old Town School of Folk Music
- The Music Box - First Movie Theatre I went to in Chicago. We saw 'City of Lost Children' also the first place I saw 'Kiss Me Deadly' (personal important moment)
- Loft Theatre at the Bailiwick
- BBQs at Don and Jen's
- Ron, Derek, and everyone I ever did a Mammals' show with
- All the Mom and Pop diners...down south it's all Perkins and Dennys and Waffle House
- The sound of the train (in the early evenings)
- The Perfect Cup
- Sweet Occasions
- Pancakes at the Square Kitchen
I've been enjoying alot of free classical music in the city lately. It's nice. I hope Atlanta has that too. Seen some great movies lately too. Four Brother, Broken Flowers. Baseball...going to see Sox and Yankees. Good stuff!
Monday, August 15, 2005
Thursday, August 11, 2005
I'm in an undershirt and boxers. Those pants crumpled up back there are my pants. That long sleeve shirt tied to radio antenna, that's my shirt. My shoes are somehow knotted to passenger side mirror.
Is this a prank? Am I being hazed? I'm confused. I don't know whether to be frightened or piss off. I look in the rear view mirror to see what I can learn. Somebody has taped some sort of tubing to my face, it starts behind the ears and comes down the cheeks ending just above my upper lip. I try to rip the tubeing loose against my shoulders. No luck.
Put my foot on the brake just to prove to myself that I've got some control. I look around and see hot sand stretching long and far on either side of the road and some ugly looking rock formations on the horizon. Tumbleweeds? Yes. Cacti? No. Animals? Not yet.
What else? Some good news. I got a full tank of gas.
When I was paying the dinner check, I leaned forward just a little more than necessary to slightly reveal the holster near my armpit. Her cheeks flushed and her hand slowly slid down my leg. Then she did that thing where she puts both her feet behind her head and she said, "Open for business." I knew the gun was a good idea, I just knew it.
Friday, August 05, 2005
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Thom Jones' "Roadrunner" short story made me laugh out loud and proved an example how the wonders of verbosity are not the sole real estate of the well read. The mouth on his narrator is common, but so endearing and awesome. I wish I talked like that every day.
Denis Johnson, Well I've read some of the plays which confound, confuse, and yet still intrigue me. I bought a novel, but havn't yet dived in. I started the short story collection "Jesus' Son" though. Man, that was good stuff.
I'm getting back to the point when I'm tunring the TV off and instead heading to the coffeehouse, finding a comfortable chair and reading. Lord, it feels so good to do. Thank you.
But, all the bells and whistles. The flashy graphics and what not? I'm just bored with it today. Of course take it all away and I'll probably miss it terribly.
I think today will be my last physical therapy session. I've gotten all I'm going to get from it. My therapist is a good guy and he listens, but I think that he's done all he can do for me. I'm looking at my appt with the Dr. next week more as an exit interview then anything else. He'll suggest that we go to chiropractic, but with 6 weeks left in c-town is it worth it?
Monday, August 01, 2005
I'm leaving. No doubt about that. I am now just doubting the wisdom of my 30 day planned trip. I'm asking myself if 30 days is too intense. I'm asking myself if I want to blow 3 thousand dollars on the trip just before relocating without a set job or health plan.
I'm asking myself if I need 2 adventures at once. The 30 day adventure and then the brand new region of the country adventure.
I'm debating just a 2 week trip to the west coast, rather than the 30 day trip around the whole country.
I could do that for 1000 dollars rather than 3000. I would still have 7000 for my seed money. i dont know This plan i starting to sound like the plan to me.
Friday, July 29, 2005
It is a crampy, incompotent, dirty, germ ridden method or motion. I can't abide it any longer.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Monday, July 25, 2005
This is indicative of what it is to use mass transit in this city. I will leave this city. I will leave this city soon. I've had enough of settling for the shit up to my ankles. Cities suck. A young man can overlook the dirt, focusing only on his dreams. A middle aged man, has got better things to be doing then settling for this shit.
I'm free. I'm leaving this shit bag in 68 days!
Tonight, clean your apartment. Tomorrow, put it up for sublet!
Friday, July 22, 2005
If I do, do I get a car, or do I rent a car. The great thing about the rental is of course that you can beat the hell out of it, and even if the tires go flat, they'll bring you out a replacement car. The down side, paying around 900 dollars to have the car for a month with insurance.
Sept 30th. That is the day. I'm done as of that day. I need to start doing things. I need to get to work. I got to get ready!
were a great many thoughts but no such thing as a
truth. Man made the truths himself and each truth was a
composite of a great many vague thoughts. All about in
the world were the truths and they were all beautiful.
The old man had listed hundreds of the truths in his
book. I will not try to tell you of all of them. There
was the truth of virginity and the truth of passion,
the truth of wealth and of poverty, of thrift and of
profligacy, of carelessness and abandon. Hundreds and
hundreds were the truths and they were all beautiful.
And then the people came along. Each as he appeared
snatched up one of the truths and some who were quite
strong snatched up a dozen of them.
It was the truths that made the people grotesques. The
old man had quite an elaborate theory concerning the
matter. It was his notion that the moment one of the
people took one of the truths to himself, called it his
truth, and tried to live his life by it, he became a
grotesque and the truth he embraced became a falsehood.
For those of you who have not read S. Anderson, you are missing quite a treat. Bold, Direct, Simple stories about real people. Honest to a point that might have been considered scandalous for his time. This man is a treasure. I cant stress enough how impressed I am with every word of his i have read. The section above was taken from Winesburg, Ohio. Read it!
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
I thought Chan was incredible. His intelligence and detective skill was heroic to me. My eyes were and still are seduced by the oriental designs when they appeared and by the dark houses, the dark alleys. Before I knew what noir was, I was slowly falling in love with dark city streets and creepy atmospherics of Charlie Chan's movies.
A dream of mine would be to do an homage piece pitting Fu Manchu against Charlle Chan of the Honolulu Police department. Unfortunately, these images these characters are quite offensive to a lot of Asain Americans. I think the only way I could get away with it, is if I made both of them so obviously, over the top characatures of old white men in yellow face. You know like having Jerry Stiller as Fu Manchu and Don Rickles as Charlie Chan.
"Get over here, number one hockeypuck!"
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Sunday - White Sox
My good buddy R.K. and I went to the White Sox game. Unfortunately they lost in extra innings. The highlight of the entire day though was when we got to take a photo op with the ladies on the chevy pit crew team, you know the baseball/chevy truck cheerleaders with the heavy hangers. After the photo, I swear R.K. gave his pit crew gal a hug that lasted a full five seconds. That dawg!!! It's just the D-O-douba-G in 'em.
Saturday - Whole lot of nothing.
I took a bus ride downtown to do some book shopping and I also ate at the ESPNZONE, I'll tell ya, they got me hooked to those recliners and all those big screen TVs especially during baseball season when I can watch 3 or 4 games at the same time. There is nothing like eating red meat and grease watching the Sox, Cubs, Yankees, Braves all at the same time.
Then I head home on another bus. I'm enjoying the buses more than the trains lately, although I have to admit that they are alot less reliable than the trains. Coming back north, the bus stopped at Grace and the driver said 'Last Stop, everybody off' I asked her what was up. She just kept insisting that this was the end of the line and that all riders had to leave the bus.
ME-'But dont you guys usually go all the way north to Ravenswood'
SHE-'Not this bus'
ME-'This is 145'
ME-'But the 145 goes to Ravenswood'
SHE-'Not this 145'
ME-'I wish you would have told us that when we got on'
SHE-'I'm tellin you now. You have to go. I'm going to the garage'
ME-'Will another 145 be by'
ME-'You dont know'
SHE-'Look will you just get the hell off my bus'
Then she made that little flinch move like she was going to hit something. She didnt aim it at me, she aimed it straight ahead, but she looked me in the eye when she did it.
SHE-'Fuck ya all. You can walk home for all i care. Just get the fuck off my bus, now!'
Serious eye contact now. So, I grab my bag. I'm leaving I'm about to leave this gal's life probably for ever, just as I'm about pass her out the front door. She says, "That's right asshole."
I stop dead cold. I dont turn around to face her, but I turn forward toward her windsheild and spit on it. She makes a grab for me, but forgets she's got her seat belt on. By the time she's unbuckled, I'm off the bus and laughing my ass off at her. She's standing in the doorway yelling something at me about how dirty I am, and no matter what she said didnt excuse me spitting on her windshield. Then she threw a coke can at me. It missed.
Thursday, July 07, 2005
Mock me if you must. But, if you did this people would eat it up like Candy Corn!
I call dibs!
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
When the razor thin majority has enough political power it can limit the liberty of it's minority in an effort to ensure that their country is a reflection of majority moral/religious/political believe systems rather than a country where individuals rights are recognized so long as they dont interfer with others livelihood, sancity...in such a world, it is important that we make messages which can we digested and recognized by the majority of Americans.
Finding ways to attack the consciousness America viserally. One of NBC's friends dying of Cancer that could be cured with stem cell research. An episode of NBC's Scrubs where a vigilante mistakes Zach Braff as an abortionist and stalks him mercilessly. An episode of Will and Grace where a year or two in the future, DCFS takes away a lesbian couples baby. An episode of WB's What I like about you, where Amanda Bines has to go to Canada in order to get pharmacuetical contraception because it was made illegal in her State.
It sounds so trite cause I've heard it out of the mouths of people I respect and people I cant stand, but the revolution will not be televised. Yep. That makes sense. How could it be?
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
"I compared a play to a jounrey, in which every moment should be as interesting as the destination. I despiar of a play that requires its audience to sit through two hours of plot construction, having no reference outside the immediate setting, just to be rewarded by a big emotional pay off in the last act. This, I regard as a kind of false stimulation. I think every line and every situation in a play should "pay off," too, and have its extensions of meaning beyond the immediate setting, into life. I strive to bring meaning to every moment, every action."
Friday, June 24, 2005
Icarus without an audience final falls back into the labrynith. If he is still breathing, he uses his breath to scream out his resentment at his audience, at his father.
I heard the phrase "pop culture", "pop artist", "pop song". Usually these words translated into into sugary smiles or discontent glances. Then I came across this phrase, "pop audience", and I couldn't get it out of my head.
No audience is more critical than the pop audience; unlike the more cultivated and hip they don't go on listening because they are "supposed to," past the point when they are being reached. When it no longer works for them they turn it off.-Arthur Miller
What is the 'pop audience' aside from the simplest definition: those who consume 'pop culture'? For me 'pop' was always the adjective applied to the thing that was being consumed. Where as I may have had preconceived notions about those who did the consuming, I never thought to designate them as 'pop'. For the sake of discussion, lets call the 'pop audience' the masses. Lets assume that they are not the 'pop audience' becuase of what they digest, becuase at any given time all Americans will digest pop culture. Let us assume that they are an audience, a mass audience which is available, but whom the mass media market via saturation has more successfully marketed to than any other body, organization, or individual. Hence, they regularly tune into the alternative that is most available : 'pop culture'.
While It's possible I may be making a mountain out of mole hill by analysizing Miller's statement well beyond the author's intent, I can not ignore the call I feel to greater understand the 'pop audience', to greater understand my fellow man, the everyman in it's entirety, not just the academic man, but the subject of my own personal academia, the betterment of my specie.
The majority of friends and collegues I've shared this quote with focus on the verb 'critical'. Considering who my friends and collegues are (artists, intellectuals, writers) it is understandable how they themselves would be 'critical' of the use of the word 'critical' when describing the behavior of an audience that seems to not want to engage anything other that the most simplified expressions or the most visceral experiences. For them 'pop' represents something in opposition to that which some of them have spent a lifetime trying to achieve.
When the creations of a genius collide with the mind of a layman, and produce an empty sound, there is little doubt as to which is at fault. - Salvador Dali
Now, who knows exactly what Dali meant by this? It's possible that this also has been translated from Spanish or French into English. But when considering the personality of Salvador Dali, his thoughts and pursuit of 'genius' (i.e. the obvious value which he attached to it) I'm moving forward with the assumption that this statement is a clever, evasive way of claiming that the 'layman' is responsible for the empty sound. And when that 'pop audience' or 'layman' rejects a highbrow, more complicated artistic endeavor for a simplifed 'pop culture' alternative, The non pop artist might see this 'pop audience/layman' not as a victim subjected to and controlled by mass media manipulation, but rather as an accessory to that 'pop culture' the way in which one might be an accessory to a crime. The crime might be the intentional dumbing down of America, a sort of parital suicide. Rather than killing themselves entirely, perhaps they are just killing one certain part of themselves, their ability for intellectual reflection and abstraction. Hence, the 'pop audience' turns off the high brow art that they dont understand. At the same time, the artist might stop caring or even trying to reach the 'pop audience' convinced that in order to communicate with them, he or she would have to sacrifice their artistic intgerity, indentity, sacrifice their own personal genius. What we are left with is a sort of 'Who dumped who first/final' sort of scenario. For some artists that is enough, it does not matter, for others it does matter, and here is why...
All in all, the creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act. - Marcel Duchamp
I'm almost positive that Duchamp would not necessarily agree with my ultimate conclusions. But, we are in agreement with the above statement.
If the 'pop audience' is the 'mass audience' then I think we as artists must find a way to communicate with them. If we are to teach or enable them (granted we may in the end only be self appointed teachers who constantly must weather the scorn of our students) we have to speak in their vernacular. Why is our responsibliity to speak in their vernacular? Simply put, becuase the majority of them can not decipher ours.
So many of us who have become artists, who willingly define ourselves by those creative aspirations rather than economic aspirations, are inspired by the most intelligent, though provoking, abstract, progressive artist expressions of the past century. We encountered the artistic 'isms' and in them we found subversion, variety, paradigms for utopian thought and action. We found diversity, novelty, invention. The palate of artistic endeavour drastically expanded. Every artistic 'ism' became a catalyst for creativity, artistic freedom, and self actualization.
We became enabled to speak in voice outside the venacular, and we found this to be ultimately freeing. We discovered wonderful venues of virtuosity, and undoubtably we are improved becuase of that. At the risk of sounding arrogant, we have chartered into waters that few others ever will. We swim at depths that most men, whether by essential design or condition of their environment, simply can not fathom. Regardless of what ever fashionable worth to economics (the corporate mass media) we may or may not have any given season, we are special. Those in the know understand that we not only can read the the keys in the treasure map, but that we are a kind of treasure in of ourselves.
Some artists are able to reject the "pop". They find it to be a false idoltry. They yearned for something spectacular, pure, dare I say spiritual and were able to dedicate their waking moments to it, to surrender to it, to achieve some sort of sainthood/martydom for the art. Their life became about this thing, this creation, this singular expression(Henry Darger, Vincent Van Gogh, Michelangelo).
However, there is a level/degree of abstraction in each given historical moment that feeds and inspires the highest of intellectuals but ignores the remainder of humanity. If we choose to rise to this level of abstraction, we must realize that we are only speaking to each other among the artistic elite. This is what some might call 'art for art's sake'. I perfer to call it 'art as an individual creative freedom' or 'art as freedom'. It is an art that hestiates to consider the mass audience's vernacular. An art that feels assured that by accepting communication on the audience's terms, it becomes censored by the audiences' limited intellect, taste, or social/environmental conditioning. If this is something that we as artists do in order to see how high the human mind can soar when it is unfettered by a society or dogma, that is interesting and inspiring. But, in leaving behind the society we also risk leaving behind the specie as well.
Even as our elitism, our abstraction can result in an expansion of the realm which is human, there is also an equal danger in discriminating against the majority of mankind itself. Where artistic 'ism's can serve as a creative enabler to the artist, to the uninitiated it may become a disabler, an obstacle.
If we all, both the artists and audience are not speaking the same language, then in end whatever heights to which the individual soars risk becoming meaningless to the universe around him becuase the tower from which his spectators, his breathen, his specie would view such an achievement will crumble under the weight of confusion.
Duchamp would suggest that this risk should be irrelevant to the artist.
The work of art is always based on the two poles of the onlooker and the maker, and the spark that comes from the bipolar action gives birth to something - like electricity. But the onlooker has the last word, and it is always posterity that makes the masterpiece. The artist should not concern himself with this, because it has nothing to do with him.
If we pursue 'art as freedom' you can't argue with Duchamp's assessment. But, there is another kind of artistic pursuit 'art as communication'. Art as a form a civic activism (directly or indirectly), as a communicative critic of one's society meant as a call to change. In order to pursue this form of artistic endevour we must keep in mind the audience's vernacular. We must not disregard the mass audience as ignorant of the 'genius' path. We must learn what their language is and speak to them in that language or at the very least translate our language into something they can comprehend.
Can we ignore ignorance? Can we destroy ignorance? Or can the elite and the ignorant find a third path? Is it enough to say, "So long as the ignorant remain ignorant, they are not worth the effort?" If we say this, then we also already say good bye to this world. Then all our artistic endeavor is merely our own personal form of distraction until nothingness consumes us individually. Are the words we weave meant to bring people together, or are they meant to set us as artists apart? Are we relishing our own individuality or are we declaring our intelliectual and moral superiority?
As it is ultimately the parent's responsiblity to care for and nuture and communicate with the child, so to is it the artists' responibility to care for and nuture and communicate with the audience. The audience might cring at this notion, the same way in which the toddler sitting the car seat thinks it knows how to drive the automobile becuase it watches it's parents hands. The audience might despise this notion in the manner in which the teenage despises his parents. But the parents hopefully continue in their duty to the child even when the child is not appreciative, even when the child is hostile, combative, dismissive. It is the parents' act of love.
Can the artists not also love in a similiar way, their audience?
I believe that there is room enough for both kinds of art, both 'art as freedom' and 'art as communication'. But, if we aspire to the later then we must beware of and balance our own malice towards those who may dismissively reject the art we offer. That is not say our disappointments and malice aren't justified, but if we endulge them we risk alienating those whom ultimately we wish to serve.
One of my favorite screenwriter/directors of film noir, Samuel Fuller, said the following of computers and technology, but the same could be expressed regarding art and culture.
The real worth of all our newfangled, high-speed communication made possible by computers will be judged by one thing and one thing only: their contributions to democracy.
If we use this as the barometer of our artistic endeavour, then we must consider the mass audience's vernacular, even if we disagree with their tastes, their dismissals, their choices. If we hope to provide them with alternatives to the mass media corporate machine, we have to acknowledge that alternatives offered the audience that they can not decipher are not alternatives at all.
However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.-Winston Churchill
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
"Art is a habit-forming drug. That's all it is for the artist, for the collector, for anybody connected with it. Art has absolutely no existence as varacity, as truth. People speak of it with great, religious reverence, but I don't see why it is to be so much revered. I'm afraid I'm an agnostic when it comes to art. I don't believe in it with all the mystical trimmings. As a drug it's probably very useful for many people, very sedative, but as a religion it's not even as good as God."
"All in all, the creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act. This becomes even more obvious when posterity gives its final verdict and sometimes rehabilitates forgotten artists."
"The individual, man as a man, man as a brain, if you like, interests me more than what he makes, because I've noticed that most artists only repeat themselves."
"I don't believe in art. I believe in artists."
"I am interested in ideas, not merely in visual products."
"Society takes what it wants. The artist himself does not count, because there is no actual existence for the work of art. The work of art is always based on the two poles of the onlooker and the maker, and the spark that comes from the bipolar action gives birth to something - like electricity. But the onlooker has the last word, and it is always posterity that makes the masterpiece. The artist should not concern himself with this, because it has nothing to do with him."
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
There is only one difference between a madman and me. The madman thinks he is sane. I know I am mad.
"It is good taste, and good taste alone, that possesses the power to sterilize and is always the first handicap to any creative functioning."
"The difference between false memories and true ones is the same as for jewels: it is always the false ones that look the most real, the most brilliant."
"We are all hungry and thirsty for concrete images. Abstract art will have been good for one thing: to restore its exact virginity to figurative art."
"Progressive art can assist people to learn not only about the objective forces at work in the society in which they live, but also about the intensely social character of their interior lives. Ultimately, it can propel people toward social emancipation."
Monday, June 20, 2005
There is no coming to consciousness without pain.
Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward.
-Vernon Law, Pitcher for the Pirates
However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.
It’s a little like wrestling a gorilla. You don’t quit when you're tired--you quit when the gorilla is tired.
Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.
-General George Patton
"They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. "
"When I got my first television set, I stopped caring so much about having close relationships. "
"My idea of a good picture is one that's in focus and of a famous person. "
"I'm afraid that if you look at a thing long enough, it loses all of its meaning. "
"An artist is someone who produces things that people don't need to have but that he - for some reason - thinks it would be a good idea to give them. "
"Don't pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches."
Thursday, June 16, 2005
But Arthur, if you leave a dog unattended next to a bag of puppy chow it will eat till its stomach is distended.
In all seriousness though. There are some profound implications to what Miller is saying. If we are speaking solely of our own American Pop Cultural Corporate Machine, and joyfully playing with the question why is it that the old people don't like what the young kids are playing on the radio...well, I'll leave such an inquiry to the capable intellect of a Andy Rooney. But, what about other popular cultural phenomina. For instance, the Nazi Propoganda Machine... If you view Albert Speer as a pop culture iconic enginner of his time.
This statement of Miller's hits me like a punch in the face. Not because it is a truism (which it is), but becuase it should stand as a warning and a condemnation as well.
The Michael Jackson Trial, Terry Shaivo Death Watch...if we can perceive these as pop cultural events for us to digest, (which is as they are presented to us by news media who are firmly entrenched within pop culture) we can state that, in its time so too were the Salem Witch Trials, McCarthy's Red Scare.
Let's assume Miller is right. And lets take it a step further. What are the implications if we can so easily marry Government, Politics, and Pop Cultural Appetites?
How connected are American Politics and Pop Culture. Is it our fault that we have not "turned it off"?
"Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age."
"Irresponsibility is part of the pleasure of all art; it is the part the schools cannot recognize."
"The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts."
"There is no heresy or no philosophy which is so abhorrent to the church as a human being."
- James Joyce
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
I was reading a short story by Joseph Mitchell, On the Wagon. In it the protagonist is alone and fretting about the loss of his girlfriend and it's relation to his drunkenness. He was lonesome because the bars he used to go to were now off limits because he wanted to avoid drink. He in essence was saying "no" to life so that he could survive, in the hopes that if he survived, he would be able to be worthy of his love's return. Of course after six weeks, he finally breaks down. He embraces his vices (whether or not he had a problem or just his girl thought he had a problem is not laid out) and he begins slowly in a small way to enjoy his life again.
I have been staying away from the old spots I used to frequent, afraid that to drink a sip of the draught I once drunk heartily from would result in a personal tragedy that I would not be able to save myself from. Is this position a little too dramatic? too melodramatic? I too walk along the street and do whatever it takes to keep myself away from my apartment, just like Mike in the story. Maybe, I should stop fantasizing about a different place, a more special place? A nirvana, an Eden where I can have my cake?
"Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm."
Monday, June 13, 2005
I am a sick man. I am a spiteful man. An unattractive man. My liver hurts. Good, let it hurt more!!!
"Deprived of meaningful work, men and women lose their reason for existence; they go stark, raving mad."
"Innovators and men of genius have almost always been regarded as fools at the beginning (and very often at the end) of their careers. "
"There is no subject so old that something new cannot be said about it."
"The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions."
Friday, June 10, 2005
"I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English - it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don't let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in. When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don't mean utterly, but kill most of them - then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are wide apart. An adjective habit, or a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice."
"To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement. To condense the diffused light of a page of thought into the luminous flash of a single sentence, is worthy to rank as a prize composition just by itself...Anybody can have ideas--the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph."
"When you feel like tellin a feller to go to the devil--tell him to go to Chicago--it'll anser every purpose, and is perhaps, a leetle more expensive."
"Satan (impatiently) to New Comer: The trouble with you Chicago people is, that you think you are the best people down here; whereas you are merely the most numerous."
- Gene Fowler via Sam Fuller
"If a story doesn't give you a hard-on in the first couple of scenes throw it in the goddamned garbage"
"The real worth of all our newfangled, high-speed communication made possible by computers will be judged by one thing and one thing only: their contributions to democracy."
"I remain to this day an outsider. As for life, I've always plunged in hed first without worrying about failure."
"All human beings are in the same mortal boat, each of us with our own baggage of defeats and victories. Why not carry our load with a smile, stubbornly optimistic, getting the most out of what remains of our lives? Why allow defeats to defeat us more than once."
Thursday, June 09, 2005
2) Read, read, read. History, Literature
3) Learn a second language
4) White Sox win the World Series
5) Write, write, write
6) Meet the girl of my dreams, and sweep her off her feet
7) Sing more
8) Get a car. In Chicago, I've done alright without one, but the future needs wheels!
9) Travel the applalacians
10) Invent something that makes the world a better place (Bleeech! Why Not!)
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
-Studs Terkel, from a foreword to Algren's "Man With The Golden Arm"
So the great listener is going to be speaking at the Printer Row's Book Fair this year. By the time I got around to looking online for a ticket, they were all gone. In fact, out of all the ticketed events, his was the only one that was sold out. Studs, if you're listening...send me a ticket. I want to commune with you for a few minutes even if it is in the midst of a crowd.
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
I found this on bookslut which found it at the times online
"There is no limit to the expansion of the audience imagination so long as the play's internal logic is kept inviolate. It is not true that conventionalism is demanded. They will move with you anywhere, they will believe right into the moon so long as you believe who tell them this tale. We are at the beginning of many explosions of form. They are waiting for wonders."
"Not all the cameras in Christendom nor all the tricky lights will move us one step closer to a better understanding of ourselves, but only, as it always was, the truly written word, the profoundly felt gesture, the naked and direct contemplation of man which is the enduring glamour of the stage."
Thursday, June 02, 2005
- Tennessee Williams
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
We takes those years when we have the most passion, most strength, the most drive and move to a liberal city where at best we can only preach to the choir. Why is it that the fly over states seem to be regressing politically, scientifically, artistically? It is because most of the young kids with any kind of progressive leanings get the hell out of dodge leaving only the most conservative kin behind. By consolidated our progressive populations into a few coastal burghs we have not succeeded in consolidated power and presence. We have abadoned most of this country to the hoople heads. Why? to pursue some sense of Utopia which seems fleeting even in the big cities when you turn on the news, or to pursue some lottery ticket possiblity of fame and acclaim in those big coastal cities?
I think if we woke up and realized that the fly over states is where we are needed the most, if we sacrificed a little personal contentment and stayed in those back wood places, places where our voices are needed most, we might better affect change than to swarm to magnet cities to make art that is reviewed by papers only read and valued in those cities. We are self imposed exiles within our own country. Our sense of alienation within this nation is partially our own doing. We need to spread across the nation (get out of NY, LA, and Chicago) and go places where our blue vote counts. We have to understand that we cant affect change in the rural areas sitting upon our perchs deep within the the cities. Look at those maps they put out every election. A huge mass of red, with sprinkles of blue around the edges. Still the blue almost took the election. So what if those concentrated blue votes slowly seep into the red states? Put on their plays, write their manifestos, feed the poor, and keep their local hoople heads in check?
So, go home, go back to where you came from and change the country before you waste your youth nodding away with like minded individuals in self imposed exile. Go back where the drink sweat tea and make cheese grits. In order to take back your country, you must inhabit it, not hang onto the edge of it. Imagine a small blackbox storefront in every tiny town rather than 100 black box companies clamouring, saving, and starving for use of the same 20 blackboxes in the big city.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Speaking of old Black and Whites, today Samuel Fuller's Forty Guns comes out on DVD. I got to get me some of that. Fuller is among my short list of artistic/cultural heros. On that list in no particular order
Samuel Fuller - His commitment to democracy as laid out in his autobiography is to me one of the most direct and simpliest bits of inspiration.
Sam Peckinpah - Before he hit rock bottom (even as he was in the midst of his terrible falling descent), this man made some of the most powerful and meaningful movies ever made. The difference between machoismo and masculinity can be discerned here. And his magnum opus Pat Garret and Billy the Kid is like Hemingway's Old Man and The Sea.
Studs Terkel - When it comes to a storyteller connecting with his audience and creating a tangible sense of community through the work, this man has no equal. What I wouldn't give to have a few dinners with this guy while he is still around.
Sam Shepard - Lotta Sams on this list. If I ever have a boy, I think I'll name his Sam.
Johnny Cash - He taught me that one can be profound without being obtuse, academic, or overtly complex. Parables can not be indiscernable. Dont make your audience struggle to comprehend. Tell them exactly what you mean as simply as possible.
Maria Irene Fornes - The Play entitled Mud, is to my mind, the perfect example of someone showing the audience instead of telling the audience.
Monday, May 23, 2005
"You never truly love [Chicago] till you can love its alleys too. Where the bright morning faces of old familiar friends now wear the anxious midnight eyes of strangers a long way from home."
"Once you become part of this particular patch, you'll never love another. Like loving a woman with a broken nose, you may well find lovelier lovelies. But never a lovely so real."
Simple, Transcendent, Meaty, Perfect.
He wrote about this city with love in his heart. But didn't he eventually have to flee?
"literature is made upon any occasion that a challenge is put to the legal appartus by conscience in touch with humanity".
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Before leaving though, I wanted to embrace all there is to enjoy about this city during my last summer here, and to emmerse myself as much as possible into all things that are the positive side of Chicago. This included reading as much about Chicago history and culture as I could during these last few months of my residence here.
Some of the books I've picked up were Studs Terkel, Nelson Algren, Saul Bellow, etc. One book I picked up and then put back down again was A.J. Leibling's Chicago: The Second City. Has anyone else this book? I got about half way through (It is a very short book) and then had to put it away. It was very clever, but it was also too pithy and then began to border on prissy. A very intelligent author who was able to fine only the worst of this city while here.
Preparing for my own departure, It seemed ill advised to read such an erudite author talk about all the reasons one should flee the City of Chicago.
Now, I knew going into this book, that A.J. was going to trash the town a little bit. But, i guess i expected a more earthy more sweaty view of the city and the vice and the corruption and the dirt. Instead, I got sassy remarks about the aristocracy mingled with critics of Chicago's Shopping culture, all of which by the way is not historical so much as dated...dated...dated. Having read some of his writings on boxing, I wasnt prepared for such a foppish work from A.J. but I guess I didnt know him as well as I thought. So, I decided to put the book down after about 70 pages.