Thursday, April 30, 2009

April showers bring...staying in and watching movies

Coming in under the wire with April! The last day. It's been wet and more than a bit windy with big weather swings in Apple-town. Hope that means great flowers for May.

Got around a little bit this month: saw a really lovely independent film that won an award at Cannes in 2006 called "Luxury Car" at the Asia Society. It's from China and has some gorgeous acting and judicious direction. If you want to check it out yourself, here's a link to a clip:

The version I saw was originally subtitled in French so if you speak that language this poster will make even more sense:

Speaking of films, hick that I am, I *finally* saw two Shakespeare classics I've been meaning to catch up with: Julius Caesar with the luminous Marlon Brando and the astounding James Mason (and the great John Gielgud, Deborah Kerr, etc. everyone was rockin' it) and Laurence Olivier in Merchant of Venice. Just blown out of the water with the performances. Olivier's final utterance/lament at the end of the trial was just haunting and he showed a tremendous amount of restraint and grief throughout the film. Dude was not to be messed with! (That's him with the top hat. I haven't exactly *mastered* the blog photo thing so that's the best I could get of that picture, okay?)

That made me go into the wayback machine and pull out the good old Richard III with Ian McKellen (whose MacBeth with Judi Dench I also saw not too long ago).

Folks know I'm into the old school Brit drama (I, Claudius with Derek Jacobi and Elizabeth R with Glenda Jackson were forever etched in my mind as a child. Yay for PBS and constant re-runs!). I've seen just enough of the less-than-successful adaptations of that stuff to really love it when it works on stage or screen (big or small). Super duper gorgeous.

If you want to see some great send-ups through (let's not be too precious about Will), my colleague Nelson hipped me to this hilarious clip of Peter Sellers doing Richard III doing the Beetle's "Hard Day's Night" that was chuckle-worthy in it's drollness:

and who can forget that Emmy award winning turn of *Sir* Derek Jacobi making fun of his own (*beautiful*) original BBC Hamlet on Frasier?:

*Everytime* I see these joints I have to laugh.

(If you don't see 2 links immediately above, just two pix, something's not working with the blog but be sure to google them! Youtube has the clips!)

So, as you may detect from the many stills I've been indoors and it has been raining a lot here...

But, one one of the few lovely evenings, I got a chance to see one of my buddies' bands play, Marvin Sewell's group. They were really great, fabulous really, and shared the bill with Jeff Lee Johnson (whom I'm ashamed to say I didn't know but was really moved by). Marvin urged us to see Johnson's band and I'm so glad I did!

Marvin's crew was hitting it and, if you know Marv you know he's not exactly a talker, but he was quite conversational that night...I have to say I learned some stuff about him I didn't know before -- and I've known 'him for more than 15 years! He had the ever-ready and deservedly in-demand bass player Jerome Harris (who I also have known since forever), keeping it lockety-locked.

M. Sewell's a low-key kinda dude as this picture sorta indicates. But he was workin' them strings:

Extra thumbnail pictures for being extra in the house this month! Now that spring is hopefully springing, there may be less so this should hold ya. Modern China, Old fashioned/adapted Shakes and cool newfangled music. Not a bad month to leave! See y'all with a poem (or two):

a woman had placed
by Anne Blonstein

after jorge luis borges

a yellow rose
in a hotel glass
the man had kissed her
on the neck
had kissed her
on the mouth

but these kisses belonged to yesterday
there would be no moment
of revernalization

yellow roses came from china
open in may before our hybrids
unfold pink rugosities and baroque scent
expose dusty fissured yellow pearls

Concordance [Our conversation is a wing]
by Mei-mei Berssenbrugge

Our conversation is a wing below my consciousness, like organization in blowing cloth, eddies of water, its order of light on film with no lens.

A higher resonance of story finds its way to higher organization: data swirl into group dreams.

Then story surfaces, as if recognized; flies buzzing in your room suddenly translate to "Oh! You're crying!"

So, here I hug the old person, who's not "light" until I embrace him.

My happiness at seeing him, my French suit constitute at the interface of wing and occasion.

Postulate whether the friendship is fulfilling.

Reduce by small increments your worry about the nature of compassion or the chill of emotional identification among girlfriends, your wish to be held in the consciousness of another, like a person waiting for you to wake.

Postulate the wave nature of wanting him to wait (white space) and the quanta of fractal conflict, point to point, along the outline of a petal, shore from a small boat.

Words spoken with force create particles.

He calls the location of accidents a morphic field; their recurrence is resonance, as of an archetype with the vibration of a seed.

My last thoughts were bitter and helpless.

Friends witnessing grief enter your consciousness, illuminating your form, so quiet comes.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

March showers, April flowers and smiles!

Hey Bunnies!

April's here and I see a little green outside of my window. Yay!

So I've been keeping busy, last place outside of Brooklyn (and occasionally Manhattan) I've been to was Arizona -- nice landscape. I love the scrappy unusual plants there. It's almost like being on the balmy moon.

I, finally, thanks to my buddy Carlos Gallegos at U of A, put a toe into Mexico. I've always been very embarrassed by the fact that I've (very luckily) been to several countries on all the land masses that aren't mainly ice and hadn't yet been to the other country that is attached to this one. Seriously, I felt like a real hick. Still do but at least I hung out for a moment in the border town(s) of Nogales, ate a little, contributed to the economy (e.g. shopped) a little and disabused myself of the stereotypes of constant OK Corral drama whenever Mexico has been mentioned in the news lately. Can't really give myself props for being, as we used to say, "all up in Mexico" but at least I can't completely hold my head in shame -- about visiting Mexico at least. Picked up a sundress and made me think that one day soon it may even be warm enough wear it!

Is that warm sunlight I see in the horizon of the Nogales vendors?

(I didn't take this picture. See the url:

Now time feels fleeting as it always does when spring really gets to springing and I'm looking forward to a lovely, rigorous summer.

Since it's Sunday I snuck a peek at the style sections and all I saw was first lady pix. She's so adorably Amazonian!

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain /Getty Images

I was thinking both she and Mrs. Sarkozy wear flats for the same reasons -- so they won't be taller than their hubbies. But Barack O is over 6 feet, and Nicholas S is 5'5" ... irony much? (Hey, whatever works. I'm in no position to comment on height!)

I know I'm supposed to be all closeted about my fashion jones but I mainly look and don't touch, especially in this economy. So I'll go on: one of the things I don't get about the kerfuffle regarding Michelle O's clothes is clearly she's sending a message about modesty while the economy is doing so badly. Hence the J Crew mixing and lower key designers. I mean, like, 'hello?'.

Every once in a while she'll brand it out but I think she's trying to send a down with hyper-consumerism message just like the Pres. is. Now Oscar de la Renta is hatin' and opinionatin' on behalf of the couture crowd b/c *they* want to get the money that the First Couple usually bestows on designers. But let's just say that's what it's about: their bottom lines. My brother, oddly (because he could care less about clothes) hipped me to this piece and it is so cold-hearted a diss, I was kinda stunned. Then I applauded:

You can read the longer version yourself. The thumbnail is: why are all these designers complaining that this famous Black woman isn't wearing their clothes when they don't hire Black models? How can she even *see* herself in them? .... Ooops! the blogger went to church on 'em. No punches pulled. Worse was the excuse that some of them made that there aren't any Black models around. I mean that's ridiculous. I know some Black models and I don't even really *know* models!

Catch up with the rest of the millennium designers!

Anywho...I have been running into buddies I haven't seen in dog's years while out of town. Like Carlos, Kazim Ali, Kimiko Hahn and Fred Moten. Good to see faces in places...met some new folks since I've been back that opened up my peeps: Saw two thought-provoking lectures on photography icw academic duties.

One by the fashion photographer Miles Aldridge (segue, segue) at the ICP. My hipster arty students were full of meta-narrative comments about his latest book, particularly about how women were 'framed' as well as how he presented his family at the end of the talk. Quite the stimulating discussion. The attention to tone and color in the pictures was extraordinary and lush. I have to say that I enjoyed it most when he discussed the technique used in considering the film stock, cameras, background. The nuts-and-bolts stuff. We juxtaposed his 'intent' w/ Barthes relationship to 'intent' in Camera Lucida and it was really a nice contrast. Not totally fair I suppose since Barthes is a philosopher not a photographer but I think Barthes had the unfair advantage, as it were.

Aldridge did come across as a pretty amiable fellow as he signed books. Not a friend, but friendly!

I then had the pleasure of participating in a great conversation along with other eggheads (saying it with love!) and Susan Meiselas the very verite photographer, famous for, among other things, her work in Nicaragua during the war, her latest book on the idea of Kurdistan (conceptual mapping, Carlos?) and the controversy between her and Joy Garnett and Joywar. There's so much that can be said about Meiselas' work as a metaphor of journalism, fame, derivation, 'sampling' and community. Read around on line and see what folks are saying. Even though I'm not a visual person, gave me tons to think about and see.

For the rest of the spring, i'm getting some rest in the spring. No insane weekly traveling and conference talking. Planehopping is super cool, but only in doses. i miss Brooklyn.

Even walked across the bridge this week. Nothing else like it.

This poem is a bit longer than usual but a very nice 'slant' summary:

The Bridge, Palm Sunday, 1973
by Alfred Corn

It avails not. time nor place—distance avails not. . .
—Whitman. "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry"

The bridge was a huge sentence diagram,
You and I the compound subject, moving
Toward the verb. We stopped, breathing
Balloonfuls of air; and noonday sun sent down
A hard spray of light. Sensing an occasion,
I put my arm on your shoulder, my friend
And brother. Words, today, took the form of actions.

The object of the pilgrimage, 110 Columbia Heights,
Where Hart Crane once lived, no longer existed,
We learned, torn down, the physical address gone.
A second possible tribute was to read his Proem
There on the Promenade in sight of the theme.
That line moved you about the bedlamite whose shirt
Balloons as he drops into the river, much like
Crane's death, though he wasn't a "bedlamite";
A dreamer, maybe who called on Whitman and clasped
His present hand, as if to build a bridge across time. . . .

We hadn't imagined happenstance would lead us next
To join with the daydreamers lined up before
An Easter diorama of duck eggs, hatching
Behind plate glass. The intended sentiment featured
Feathered skeletons racked with spasms of pecking
Against resistant shell, struggling out of dim
Solitary into incandescence and gravity, and quaking
With the shock of sound and sight as though existence
Were a nervous disease. All newborns receive the same
Sentence—birth, death, equivalent triumphs.

Two deaf-mutes walked back the same but inverse way,
Fatigue making strangers of us and the afternoon
Hurt, like sunburn. Overexposure is a constant
Risk of sensation and of company. I wondered
Why we were together—is friendship imaginary?
And does imagination obscure or reveal its subject?
The ties always feel strange, strung along happenstance,
Following no diagram, incomplete, a bridge of suspense. . . .

Sometimes completed things revisited still resonate.
I'm thinking about Crane's poem of the Bridge,
Grand enough to inspire disbelief and to suspend it.
The truth may lie in imagining a connection
With him or with you; with anyone able to overlook
Distance, shrug off time, on the right occasion. . . .

If I called him a brother—help me with this, Hart—
Who climbed toward light and sensation until the sky
Broke open to reveal an acute, perfect convergence
Before letting him fall back into error and mortality,
Would we be joined with him and the voyagers before him?
Would a new sentence be pronounced, a living connection
Between island and island, for a second, be made?


Oh and for those who observe: Got this from the IHC website. Super soul-stirring gospel music on the page: