Bill Callahan


Comes out today

via The Arm

April 14th, 2009
Tea Parties Forever

NY Times Published: April 12, 2009

This is a column about Republicans — and I’m not sure I should even be writing it.

Today’s G.O.P. is, after all, very much a minority party. It retains some limited ability to obstruct the Democrats, but has no ability to make or even significantly shape policy.

Beyond that, Republicans have become embarrassing to watch. And it doesn’t feel right to make fun of crazy people. Better, perhaps, to focus on the real policy debates, which are all among Democrats.

But here’s the thing: the G.O.P. looked as crazy 10 or 15 years ago as it does now. That didn’t stop Republicans from taking control of both Congress and the White House. And they could return to power if the Democrats stumble. So it behooves us to look closely at the state of what is, after all, one of our nation’s two great political parties.

One way to get a good sense of the current state of the G.O.P., and also to see how little has really changed, is to look at the “tea parties” that have been held in a number of places already, and will be held across the country on Wednesday. These parties — antitaxation demonstrations that are supposed to evoke the memory of the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution — have been the subject of considerable mockery, and rightly so.

But everything that critics mock about these parties has long been standard practice within the Republican Party.

Thus, President Obama is being called a “socialist” who seeks to destroy capitalism. Why? Because he wants to raise the tax rate on the highest-income Americans back to, um, about 10 percentage points less than it was for most of the Reagan administration. Bizarre.

But the charge of socialism is being thrown around only because “liberal” doesn’t seem to carry the punch it used to. And if you go back just a few years, you find top Republican figures making equally bizarre claims about what liberals were up to. Remember when Karl Rove declared that liberals wanted to offer “therapy and understanding” to the 9/11 terrorists?

Then there are the claims made at some recent tea-party events that Mr. Obama wasn’t born in America, which follow on earlier claims that he is a secret Muslim. Crazy stuff — but nowhere near as crazy as the claims, during the last Democratic administration, that the Clintons were murderers, claims that were supported by a campaign of innuendo on the part of big-league conservative media outlets and figures, especially Rush Limbaugh.

Speaking of Mr. Limbaugh: the most impressive thing about his role right now is the fealty he is able to demand from the rest of the right. The abject apologies he has extracted from Republican politicians who briefly dared to criticize him have been right out of Stalinist show trials. But while it’s new to have a talk-radio host in that role, ferocious party discipline has been the norm since the 1990s, when Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, became known as “The Hammer” in part because of the way he took political retribution on opponents.

Going back to those tea parties, Mr. DeLay, a fierce opponent of the theory of evolution — he famously suggested that the teaching of evolution led to the Columbine school massacre — also foreshadowed the denunciations of evolution that have emerged at some of the parties.

Last but not least: it turns out that the tea parties don’t represent a spontaneous outpouring of public sentiment. They’re AstroTurf (fake grass roots) events, manufactured by the usual suspects. In particular, a key role is being played by FreedomWorks, an organization run by Richard Armey, the former House majority leader, and supported by the usual group of right-wing billionaires. And the parties are, of course, being promoted heavily by Fox News.

But that’s nothing new, and AstroTurf has worked well for Republicans in the past. The most notable example was the “spontaneous” riot back in 2000 — actually orchestrated by G.O.P. strategists — that shut down the presidential vote recount in Florida’s Miami-Dade County.

So what’s the implication of the fact that Republicans are refusing to grow up, the fact that they are still behaving the same way they did when history seemed to be on their side? I’d say that it’s good for Democrats, at least in the short run — but it’s bad for the country.

For now, the Obama administration gains a substantial advantage from the fact that it has no credible opposition, especially on economic policy, where the Republicans seem particularly clueless.

But as I said, the G.O.P. remains one of America’s great parties, and events could still put that party back in power. We can only hope that Republicans have moved on by the time that happens.

April 13th, 2009
Peter Zumthor wins 2009 Pritzker


NY Times Published: April 12, 2009

He is not a celebrity architect, not one of the names that show up on shortlists for museums and concert hall projects or known beyond architecture circles. He hasn’t designed many buildings; the one he is best known for is a thermal spa in an Alpine commune. And he has toiled in relative obscurity for the last 30 years in a remote village in the Swiss mountains.

“He has conceived his method of practice almost as carefully as each of his projects,” the citation from the nine-member Pritzker jury says. “He develops buildings of great integrity — untouched by fad or fashion. Declining a majority of the commissions that come his way, he only accepts a project if he feels a deep affinity for its program, and from the moment of commitment, his devotion is complete, overseeing the project’s realization to the very last detail.”

For Mr. Zumthor, 65, winning the Pritzker, which is awarded annually to a living architect and regarded as architecture’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize, is a kind of vindication. “You can do your work, you do your thing, and it gets recognized,” he said in a telephone interview from Haldenstein, the Swiss village where he lives and works.

Mr. Zumthor is the 33rd laureate to receive the prize, which consists of a $100,000 grant and a bronze medallion and is awarded at a different architecturally significant location each year. This year’s ceremony is to be held on May 29 in Buenos Aires.

The project most closely associated with Mr. Zumthor is the spa he completed in 1996 for the Hotel Therme in Vals, an Alpine village in Switzerland. Using slabs of quartzite that evoke stacked Roman bricks, Mr. Zumthor created a contemporary take on the baths of antiquity.

He is also known for his use of wood, as in St. Benedict Chapel in Sumvitg, Switzerland, which evokes a giant hot tub.

The Pritzker jury praised Mr. Zumthor’s use of materials. “In Zumthor’s skillful hands, like those of the consummate craftsman, materials from cedar shingles to sandblasted glass are used in a way that celebrates their own unique qualities, all in the service of an architecture of permanence,” the citation said, adding, “In paring down architecture to its barest yet most sumptuous essentials, he has reaffirmed architecture’s indispensable place in a fragile world.”

Mr. Zumthor said that his projects generally originated with materials. “I work a little bit like a sculptor,” he said. “When I start, my first idea for a building is with the material. I believe architecture is about that. It’s not about paper, it’s not about forms. It’s about space and material.”

Mr. Zumthor’s buildings do not share a common vernacular. They range from tall and circular to low-slung and boxy. For his Field Chapel to St. Nikolaus von der Flüe, completed in 2007, in Mechernich, Germany, Mr. Zumthor formed the interior from 112 tree trunks configured like a tent. Over 24 days, layers of concrete were poured around the structure. Then for three weeks a fire was kept burning inside so that the dried tree trunks could be easily removed from the concrete shell. The chapel floor was covered with lead, which was melted on site and manually ladled onto the floor.

For an art museum in Bregenz, Austria — a four-story cube of concrete, steel and glass that opened in 1997 — Mr. Zumthor used glass walls that at night can become giant billboards or video screens.

His Kolumba Art Museum in Cologne, Germany, completed in 2007, rises out of the ruins of the Gothic St. Kolumba Church, destroyed in World War II. The Pritzker jury called the project “a startling contemporary work, but also one that is completely at ease with its many layers of history.”

Mr. Zumthor said that he deliberately kept his office small— no more than 20 people. “That’s the way it’s going to be so that I can be the author of everything,” he said.

“I’m not a producer of images,” he added. “I’m this guy who, when I take on a commission, I do it inside out, everything myself, with my team.”

One of Mr. Zumthor’s best-known designs never came to fruition. In 1993 he won the competition for a museum and documentation center on the horrors of Nazism to be built on the site of Gestapo headquarters in Berlin. Mr. Zumthor’s submission called for an extended three-story building with a framework consisting of concrete rods. The project, called the Topography of Terror, was partly built and then abandoned when the government decided not to go ahead for financial reasons. The unfinished building was demolished in 2004.

Born in Basel, Switzerland, Mr. Zumthor as a teenager served a four-year apprenticeship with a cabinetmaker. He studied at the Basel Arts and Crafts School and spent a year at Pratt Institute in New York. In the 1970s he moved to Graubünden, Switzerland, to work for the Department for the Preservation of Monuments. He established his own practice in 1979 in Haldenstein, where he and his wife, Annalisa Zumthor-Cuorad, brought up their three children.

Mr. Zumthor said that his village had been an inspiration and a refuge. “It helps you concentrate,” he said. “And also collaborators coming here are not distracted by all the things of the big city. To come up with me, you’re in the Alps. It’s sort of a commitment. It’s a beautiful feeling. Of course you have to like the mountains.”

April 12th, 2009
Jason Meadows



Painted, stained, vanished woods, metal hardware, rubber, found metal, aluminam and copper sheeting, Plexiglas, aluminum angle, bungee cord and nylon strap.
108 H x 46 W x 25 D inches


WIld Pitch

Painted wood, metal hardware, found metal objects, fabric, baseball glove, baseballs.
90 H x 75 W x 55 D inches

Great new work from Jason Meadows on Marc Foxx’s website

April 11th, 2009
The Running Man, Revisited


The endurance running hypothesis, the idea that humans evolved as long-distance runners, may have legs thanks to a new study on toes.

The Seed Magazine
by Maywa Montenegro

Ann Trason, Scott Jurek, Matt Carpenter. These are the megastars of ultra-distance running, athletes who pound out not just marathons, but
dozens of them back-to-back, over Rocky Mountain passes and across the scorching floor of Death Valley. If their names are unfamiliar, it’s probably because this type of extreme running is almost universally seen as a fringe sport, the habit of the superhumanly fit, the masochistic, the slightly deranged.

But a handful of scientists think that these ultra-marathoners are using their bodies just as our hominid forbears once did, a theory known as the endurance running hypothesis (ER). ER proponents believe that being able to run for extended lengths of time is an adapted trait, most likely for obtaining food, and was the catalyst that forced Homo erectus to evolve from its apelike ancestors. Over time, the survival of the swift-footed shaped the anatomy of modern humans, giving us a body that is difficult to explain absent a marathoning past.

Our toes, for instance, are shorter and stubbier than those of nearly all other primates, including chimpanzees, a trait that has long been attributed to our committed bipedalism. But a study published in the March 1 issue of the Journal of Experimental Biology, by anthropologists Daniel Lieberman and Campbell Rolian, provides evidence that short toes make human feet exquisitely suited to substantial amounts of running. In tests where 15 subjects ran and walked on pressure-sensitive treadmills, Lieberman and Rolian found that toe length had no effect on walking. Yet when the subjects were running, an increase in toe length of just 20 percent doubled the amount of mechanical work, meaning that the longer-toed subjects required more metabolic energy, and each footfall produced more shock.

“If you have very long toes, the moment of force acting on the foot’s metatarsal phalangeal joint becomes problematic when running,” explains Lieberman. Our hominid ancestors, Australopithecus, of which Lucy is the most famous specimen, had significantly longer toes than humans. “Lucy could have walked just fine with her long toes,” says Lieberman. “But if she wanted to run a marathon, or even a half-marathon, she’d have had trouble.”

The March study is the first attempt to assess the ER hypothesis using an experimental approach, but the idea that humans have a marathoning past first surfaced more than two decades ago, when David Carrier, a runner and grad student in the lab of evolutionary biologist Dennis Bramble, convinced his mentor that running ability might explain a number of unique human features. Over the years, Bramble’s team at the University of Utah and Lieberman’s team at Harvard have amassed a small ream of physiological and morphological evidence that they believe points to a distance-running legacy. In 2004 the groups copublished a list of 26 such markers on the human body, including short toes, a hefty gluteus maximus and Achilles tendon, springy tendon-loaded legs, and the little-known nuchal ligament that stabilizes the head when it’s in rapid motion.

The paper earned the cover of Nature and generated quite a stir within bio/anthro circles. But it did nothing to answer a fundamental question: What good would endurance running have been to primitive man? On an evolutionary battleground — where the struggle is to eat or be eaten — speed, and not endurance, should be the prized trait. If a tiger in high gear could outpace Homo erectus within 10 seconds and a deer in 20, being able to run at a modest pace for hours at a time does not seem like an evolutionary advantage.

Christopher McDougall came up against this very conundrum in his spirited book Born to Run (Knopf, May 2009). McDougall, neither anthropologist nor biologist, is a journalist originally given an assignment for Runner’s World that morphed into a consuming fascination with feats of high mileage, particularly with that of the Mexican Tarahumara Indians, reclusive canyon dwellers reputed to be the best endurance athletes on earth. Wearing shoes fashioned from tire strips to cushion their feet, the Tarahumara cover up to 400 miles in festive, multiday events drawing runners and spectators from multiple villages. They are also the picture of health, enjoying almost total immunity to cancer and the diseases that plague modern society. For McDougall, the Tarahumara seem to confirm what Lieberman has been arguing all along, that humans are built for running. To find out why, McDougall inevitably found his way to the Harvard researcher, who shared with him an intriguing theory.

We know that roughly 2 million years ago, Australopithecus, with its tiny brain, hefty jaw and diet of rough, fibrous plants, evolved into Homo erectus, our slim, long-legged ancestor with a big brain and small teeth suited for tearing into animal and fruit flesh. Such a transformation almost certainly involved a reliable supply of calorie-laden meat, yet according to the fossil record, spear points have been in use for 200,000 years at most, and the bow and arrow for only 50,000 years, leaving an enormous stretch of time when early humans were consuming meat without the use of tools. Lieberman believes they ran their prey to death, often called “persistence hunting.”

In the book, McDougall recounts the Harvard researcher’s eureka moment, which happened on a five-mile jog one summer afternoon with his half-mutt border collie, Vashti: It was hot, and after a few miles, Vashti plopped down under a tree and refused to move… As he waited for his panting dog to cool off, Lieberman’s mind flashed back to his time doing fossil research in Africa…Ethnographer’s reports he’d read years ago began flooding his mind; they told of African hunters who used to chase antelopes across the savannahs, and Tarahumara Indians who would race after a deer ”until its hooves fell off.“ Lieberman had always shrugged them off as tall tales…but now he started to wonder. So how long would it take to actually run an animal to death?

Drawing on Harvard’s extant cache of locomotion data, Lieberman began crunching numbers comparing speed, body temperature, and body weight of humans and various conceivable prey. A deer and a decently fit man, Lieberman discovered, trot at almost an identical pace, but in order to accelerate, a deer goes anaerobic, while the man remains in an oxygenated jogging zone. The same is true for horses, antelopes, and a slew of other four-legged creatures. Since animals can run anaerobically only in short bursts before they must slow down to recover, a human in pursuit may have the final advantage. And because quadrupeds can’t pant while they run, they also quickly overheat. To run down dinner, Lieberman realized, might simply have been a matter of spurring the poor beast into a sprint enough times to make it collapse from hyperthermia.

“Running an animal to heatstroke is something that most humans can do, and that other animals can’t,” says Lieberman. “It’s a compelling explanation for why these capabilities evolved, and frankly, nobody’s come up with a better idea yet.”

But plenty of skeptics remain, some who doubt that persistence hunting was the reason humans evolved with the capacity for distance running, and some who doubt the ER hypothesis altogether. University of Wisconsin paleoanthropologist John Hawks, who researches the acceleration of human evolution since the advent of agriculture, questions how a trait that is supposedly specific to endurance running could persist today, when tools and farming have long since replaced the old selective pressures of hunting. “If these features really were distinctive to long-distance running, shouldn’t they have disappeared?” he asks.

Hawks also thinks that Lieberman and Rolian’s short-toe findings are essentially more evidence that humans are optimally designed for walking. “That’s exactly what we should expect,” Hawks says of the finding that toe-length variation does not affect walking. “If we see that toe length makes a big difference for running, that’s relatively good evidence that toe length wasn’t selected for.”

Still, ER theory has much on its side. Ultramarathoning is a cross-cultural phenomenon, and persistence hunting can be found in cultures all over the globe: The Kalahari Bushmen of Botswana, the Aborigines of Australia, the Masai of Kenya, and the Tarahumara are but a few examples of tribes whose lore includes the epic hunt. Hawks would argue this is a sophisticated cultural adaptation, but it could also mean that we have a common, fleet-footed ancestor.

Whether scientifically bona fide or not, it’s also hard to discount McDougall’s story of the Tarahumara’s supreme health and athleticism, and his sense of having tapped into something primordial — a feeling doubtlessly reinforced by his own metamorphosis from out-of-shape jogger to efficient ultradistance trekker. “They think it’s just a bunch of us crazy joggers out there who think running is important,” says Lieberman of his critics. The critics may be right about that, but it does seem that the endurance running hypothesis has legs.

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
By Christopher McDougall; Knopf; Out May 5

The Seed Magazine

originally found on arts and letters daily

April 11th, 2009
Chumash Influence



found on kellybreslin

April 10th, 2009

April 10th, 2009
Lesley Vance


Great new paintings by Lesley Vance

David Kordansky Gallery

April 9th, 2009
Making Banking Boring

NY Times Published: April 9, 2009

Thirty-plus years ago, when I was a graduate student in economics, only the least ambitious of my classmates sought careers in the financial world. Even then, investment banks paid more than teaching or public service — but not that much more, and anyway, everyone knew that banking was, well, boring.

In the years that followed, of course, banking became anything but boring. Wheeling and dealing flourished, and pay scales in finance shot up, drawing in many of the nation’s best and brightest young people (O.K., I’m not so sure about the “best” part). And we were assured that our supersized financial sector was the key to prosperity.

Instead, however, finance turned into the monster that ate the world economy.

Recently, the economists Thomas Philippon and Ariell Reshef circulated a paper that could have been titled “The Rise and Fall of Boring Banking” (it’s actually titled “Wages and Human Capital in the U.S. Financial Industry, 1909-2006”). They show that banking in America has gone through three eras over the past century.

Before 1930, banking was an exciting industry featuring a number of larger-than-life figures, who built giant financial empires (some of which later turned out to have been based on fraud). This highflying finance sector presided over a rapid increase in debt: Household debt as a percentage of G.D.P. almost doubled between World War I and 1929.

During this first era of high finance, bankers were, on average, paid much more than their counterparts in other industries. But finance lost its glamour when the banking system collapsed during the Great Depression.

The banking industry that emerged from that collapse was tightly regulated, far less colorful than it had been before the Depression, and far less lucrative for those who ran it. Banking became boring, partly because bankers were so conservative about lending: Household debt, which had fallen sharply as a percentage of G.D.P. during the Depression and World War II, stayed far below pre-1930s levels.

Strange to say, this era of boring banking was also an era of spectacular economic progress for most Americans.

After 1980, however, as the political winds shifted, many of the regulations on banks were lifted — and banking became exciting again. Debt began rising rapidly, eventually reaching just about the same level relative to G.D.P. as in 1929. And the financial industry exploded in size. By the middle of this decade, it accounted for a third of corporate profits.

As these changes took place, finance again became a high-paying career — spectacularly high-paying for those who built new financial empires. Indeed, soaring incomes in finance played a large role in creating America’s second Gilded Age.

Needless to say, the new superstars believed that they had earned their wealth. “I think that the results our company had, which is where the great majority of my wealth came from, justified what I got,” said Sanford Weill in 2007, a year after he had retired from Citigroup. And many economists agreed.

Only a few people warned that this supercharged financial system might come to a bad end. Perhaps the most notable Cassandra was Raghuram Rajan of the University of Chicago, a former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, who argued at a 2005 conference that the rapid growth of finance had increased the risk of a “catastrophic meltdown.” But other participants in the conference, including Lawrence Summers, now the head of the National Economic Council, ridiculed Mr. Rajan’s concerns.

And the meltdown came.

Much of the seeming success of the financial industry has now been revealed as an illusion. (Citigroup stock has lost more than 90 percent of its value since Mr. Weill congratulated himself.) Worse yet, the collapse of the financial house of cards has wreaked havoc with the rest of the economy, with world trade and industrial output actually falling faster than they did in the Great Depression. And the catastrophe has led to calls for much more regulation of the financial industry.

But my sense is that policy makers are still thinking mainly about rearranging the boxes on the bank supervisory organization chart. They’re not at all ready to do what needs to be done — which is to make banking boring again.

Part of the problem is that boring banking would mean poorer bankers, and the financial industry still has a lot of friends in high places. But it’s also a matter of ideology: Despite everything that has happened, most people in positions of power still associate fancy finance with economic progress.

Can they be persuaded otherwise? Will we find the will to pursue serious financial reform? If not, the current crisis won’t be a one-time event; it will be the shape of things to come.

April 9th, 2009
The Lines a German Won’t Cross


NY Times Published: April 4, 2009

BERLIN — A dingy line of red tile runs across the otherwise brown floor of the men’s changing room at the public swimming pool in my Berlin neighborhood. It tells you where to take your shoes off and, in the meantime, a fair amount about German thinking.

As their eyes alight on the small sign that goes with it, which reads “barefoot zone” in German, grown men freeze as though they have hit a force field, or had an electric shock administered for being foolish enough to try to pass it still shod. But I can not say what the repercussions would be. This being Germany, I have never seen anyone wearing shoes on the far side of the line and certainly would not risk it myself.

Such strict obedience is all the more impressive when you realize that the red line’s ruthless effectiveness comes with no staff members watching over it, no video camera in evidence, nor, as far I am aware, even any electric shocks. Yet I am certain that in a changing room in Paris, much less Rome, the narrow little line’s authority would be nonexistent, a half-hearted suggestion or maybe just a joke.

I thought of that dull line of tile as American policy makers tried last week to persuade the German government to cross a psychological threshold, and break fiscal discipline to spend their way out of recession.

In most daily interactions, the Germans do not need anyone to enforce their rules. They follow them — and remind one another to follow them through impromptu lectures that are often heated — because they are raised to know that is what they are supposed to do.

What the Germans call Ordnung (the usual translation is “order,” but it is a much broader concept) is the unwritten road map of one society’s concerted effort to permanently banish the instability and violence that have marked its history. That sense of insecurity includes Germany’s forced division in the cold war, the Nazi era and the hyperinflation of the 1920s, but it also stretches at least as far back as the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century, which decimated much of the German territories and population, and was a formative trauma.

The response has been to develop a national knack for sticking to the program, not just in specific areas, but in most aspects of life. The autobahn is more than just a highway with stretches where you can drive as fast as you want; it is also a marvel of self-organization. Old Fiats chug along in the right lane, while newer Volkswagens cruise the middle one, allowing sparkling Porsches to zoom by in terrifying blurs on the left. Everyone is in their assigned places, except for the fact that places have not been assigned.

More endearing to me are earnest Teutonic attempts to be laid back, as when a young would-be tough at a local basketball court — mistaking Berlin’s Volkspark Friedrichshain for upper Manhattan’s Rucker Park circa 1970 — boasted that I had better brace myself for the playground game, because “in street ball, there are no rules.” He then proceeded to enumerate carefully and politely which rules were ignored (e.g., three seconds in the lane), which were laxly enforced (non-shooting fouls) and which were still obeyed (traveling).

A German friend disagreed with my broadest stereotyping, pointing to the profusion of German tax dodgers who rush to Liechtenstein and Switzerland, and the exceptional number of people here who cut in line. “You say Italians have no respect for rules, but they will actually kick you out of a restaurant for asking for parmesan on your tuna pasta,” he pointed out. But he admitted that Germans were more likely to trust that each rule was probably written for a good reason, intended for the greater good.

Living in Germany, a foreigner quickly learns to appreciate the precise punctuality of trains and trams, but also to have a healthy fear of that same punctuality in dinner guests who appear when they were invited, instead of 20 minutes later. A group of Germans lined up on an empty street corner, even in the middle of the night, waiting for a light to change before crossing, is one of the favorite first impressions taken away by visiting Americans, who are usually jaywalking past as they observe it.

For self-reliant Americans, the German devotion to all manner of precise rules and regulations is impressive and stifling in equal measures. For American policy makers, it appears to have bred no small amount of exasperation recently.

During the often heated trans-Atlantic debate over the financial crisis, and how to respond to the worsening recession that has grown out of it, I often have felt as though the American side sometimes fails to take into account that it is talking to Germans. Indeed, if there was going to be a disagreement between the United States and Germany over stimulus and regulation, one could guess just by looking at the words, stripped of their economic context, who has been on which side of the divide.

President Obama’s approach to the financial crisis has been typically American — bold, improvisatory and on the fly. The Germans have been studied and measured, evincing a far greater trust than the Americans in their social-security system to patch the cracks in the foundation of their economy.

Of course that is due in part to the famed German aversion to excessive deficit spending, stemming from gut-level fear of a repeat of the hyperinflation of the 1920s. But there is also the German adherence to rules, love of a good plan and cautious, thoughtful approach when it slowly becomes apparent that a return trip to the drawing board may be necessary.

Can we really blame them? They tried improvising once, tearing up the rule book in the first half of the last century, letting a little charismatic speaker with an even littler mustache tell them how to get out of a tough economic pinch. He, too, posed as a man of order, but everyone, and especially the Germans, agrees that led only to chaos and destruction.

But today’s Germans also love keeping to the slowly forged consensus because, as the last 60-odd years have demonstrated, it really does run pretty well for them. Despite reasonable working hours and long vacations, this country of 82 million people is the largest exporter of goods in the world, beating even China. But the kind of society built to excel at tinkering with precision-tuned industrial machines may not be so good at retooling policies on the fly.

German stubbornness in resisting a shift of responses to the current economic crisis has led more than a few Keynesians to pull out more than a little of their hair. It might be for the best if those fans of vigorous impromptu spending came along to the pool with me — not to relax, but to learn how to coax Germans to cross a red line, rather than expect them to do what is hardest for them, which would be to just jump over it with both feet.

April 9th, 2009
Pain of Khmer Rouge Era Lost on Cambodian Youth


So Mei, 5, and So Sei, 12, at the Tuol Sleng Museum in Phnom Penh. A survey found that few Cambodians under 30 were aware of the current Khmer Rouge trials.

NY Times Published: April 7, 2009

TRAPAENG SVA, Cambodia — Sum Touch has stopped trying to tell her grandchildren about the killings, starvation and terror she lived through when a Communist Khmer Rouge regime ravaged Cambodia 30 years ago.

“It seems that even if I tell them they don’t believe what I say,” said Mrs. Sum Touch, 71, who lost many members of her family. “It hurts my heart that they don’t know what happened.”

There is a former killing field nearby and a shed filled with the skulls and bones of some of the victims. But many of the young people here, it seems, have no idea why or how they got there.

As it struggles to leave its past behind, Cambodia today suffers from a particularly painful generation gap: those who survived the brutal Khmer Rouge regime, and their children and grandchildren, who know very little about it.

“I don’t like it, but what can you do?” said Ty Leap, 52, who sells noodles and fruit drinks from a roadside stall. “It really is unbelievable that those things happened.”

For nearly four years, from 1975 to 1979, the Khmer Rouge caused the deaths of 1.7 million people from starvation, overwork and disease as well as torture and execution as they tried to construct a harsh peasant utopia.

Almost everyone here of a certain age has stories to tell of terror, abuse, hunger and the loss of family members. But those stories often fall on the deaf ears of a new generation that either cannot conceive of such brutality or seems unwilling to learn about it.

“Some older people get so upset at their children for not believing that they say, ‘I wish the Khmer Rouge time would happen again; then you’d believe it,’ ” Mr. Ty Leap said.

As much as 70 percent of Cambodia’s population is under the age of 30, and four out of five members of this young generation know little or nothing about the Khmer Rouge years, according to a survey last fall by the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley.

That ignorance — among both young and older — seems also to embrace the trials of five major Khmer Rouge figures that began last month, a process that is meant, in part, to begin a process of healing and closure.

Parts of the trial sessions are being broadcast, and newspapers are carrying reports, but even in this village at the edge of a former killing field 25 miles south of the capital, Phnom Penh, many people said they were not aware that they were under way.

“I miss some programs so I don’t know about that,” said Khieu Hong, 36, who was listening to a small transistor radio. “If you want to know about the trials you should ask the police or the old people.”

Hun Ret, 36, a cattle trader who lives nearby, said he strongly supported a trial in order to punish Khmer Rouge perpetrators. But he was surprised when he was told that the trial had already started.

Again the Berkeley study seemed to support the perception of widespread ignorance. It found that only 15 percent of the people it surveyed said they knew much at all about the trials, although that number is likely to have risen since the hearings began. The study was based on personal interviews with 1,000 people during the last three weeks of September.

Beyond the question of age, ignorance about the past appears to be a combination of culture and policy and perhaps also the passivity of a people too exhausted by history to confront its traumas.

The trials are being held under pressure from the United Nations and Western governments in a nation that might have preferred the approach of its prime minister, Hun Sen, who once proposed that Cambodia “dig a hole and bury the past.”

Mr. Hun Sen was a mid-level Khmer Rouge commander, though there is apparently no evidence that he committed major crimes. Several ranking members of his ruling party and the military are also former members of Khmer Rouge.

Because of these cross-currents in recent Cambodian history, the Khmer Rouge period has not been taught in school, causing some teachers who are survivors to feel orphaned by their students.

A new high school text book that discusses the Khmer Rouge years has been prepared, but it will reach only a portion of the country’s students.

“I talk to them, but they don’t always believe what I tell them,” said Kann Sunthara, 57, a chemistry teacher. “My father and husband and brother and sisters and many others died. Sometimes when I’m telling about them I have to turn my back and cry.”

Another teacher, Eam Mary, 41, who was severely tortured as a boy under the Khmer Rouge, said he can only catch the attention of his class when he tells weird stories, like the times he was forced by hunger to eat baby mice or lizards or worse.

“They say ‘Ew, disgusting!’ ” he said. “And at the same time some of the kids in the back of the class are playing and not paying attention.”

The generation gap seems evident here at the former killing field where dozens of skulls and bones have been preserved in a makeshift memorial — one of hundreds around the country — as evidence that the massacres really did happen.

Some older people say they still hear the cries of wandering ghosts whose bodies have not been properly laid to rest.

“They come out at night and frighten people,” said Mr. Khieu Hong, the man with the radio. “They cry ‘Whoo, whoo!’ It sounds like somebody is being tortured and crying out.”

But the children who graze cattle nearby seem deaf to the moans of ghosts.

For some of them, the bones are playthings. Sometimes they stick their fingers into the eyes of the skulls, like bowling balls. Sometimes they put them on their heads like scary caps, the children say. Sometimes they kick them.

But they seemed confused when they were asked whose skulls these were.

“They are the skulls of ghosts!” said Prok Poeuv, 11, standing near the small stupa that houses the bones. But he said he did not know whose ghosts these were, and he said he had never heard of the Khmer Rouge.

Sok Dane, 12, said she knew a little more. “My grandmother tells me that in the Khmer Rouge time some people hit other people,” she said. But that was all she knew, and the meaning of “Khmer Rouge time” was unclear to her.

Chhun Sam Ath 42, a mother of six who lives in a shanty beside the collection of skulls, is one of the better informed villagers. She has a glossy handout about the tribunal although she does not read very well.

She said some children here, deep in their souls, may know more about the past than they seem to.

“I think some of my children are reborn from the victims in the killing field,” she said. “When people come and leave offerings for the skulls, my daughter always runs to get the food, as if they were bringing it for her.”

April 8th, 2009
Florian Pumhosl


Florian Pumhosl, Plakat (#2) and Plakat (#1)


daniel buchholz

April 7th, 2009
Communities print their own currency to keep cash flowing


In Detroit, three downtown businesses have created a local currency, or scrip, to keep dollars earned locally in the community.

By Marisol Bello, USA TODAY

A small but growing number of cash-strapped communities are printing their own money.

Borrowing from a Depression-era idea, they are aiming to help consumers make ends meet and support struggling local businesses.

The systems generally work like this: Businesses and individuals form a network to print currency. Shoppers buy it at a discount — say, 95 cents for $1 value — and spend the full value at stores that accept the currency.

Workers with dwindling wages are paying for groceries, yoga classes and fuel with Detroit Cheers, Ithaca Hours in New York, Plenty in North Carolina or BerkShares in Massachusetts.

Ed Collom, a University of Southern Maine sociologist who has studied local currencies, says they encourage people to buy locally. Merchants, hurting because customers have cut back on spending, benefit as consumers spend the local cash.

“We wanted to make new options available,” says Jackie Smith of South Bend, Ind., who is working to launch a local currency. “It reinforces the message that having more control of the economy in local hands can help you cushion yourself from the blows of the marketplace.”

About a dozen communities have local currencies, says Susan Witt, founder of BerkShares in the Berkshires region of western Massachusetts. She expects more to do it.

Under the BerkShares system, a buyer goes to one of 12 banks and pays $95 for $100 worth of BerkShares, which can be spent in 370 local businesses. Since its start in 2006, the system, the largest of its kind in the country, has circulated $2.3 million worth of BerkShares. In Detroit, three business owners are printing $4,500 worth of Detroit Cheers, which they are handing out to customers to spend in one of 12 shops.

During the Depression, local governments, businesses and individuals issued currency, known as scrip, to keep commerce flowing when bank closings led to a cash shortage.

By law, local money may not resemble federal bills or be promoted as legal tender of the United States, says Claudia Dickens of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

“We print the real thing,” she says.

The IRS gets its share. When someone pays for goods or services with local money, the income to the business is taxable, says Tom Ochsenschlager of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. “It’s not a way to avoid income taxes, or we’d all be paying in Detroit dollars,” he says.

Pittsboro, N.C., is reviving the Plenty, a defunct local currency created in 2002. It is being printed in denominations of $1, $5, $20 and $50. A local bank will exchange $9 for $10 worth of Plenty.

“We’re a wiped-out small town in America,” says Lyle Estill, president of Piedmont Biofuels, which accepts the Plenty. “This will strengthen the local economy. … The nice thing about the Plenty is that it can’t leave here.”

April 7th, 2009
The End of Philosophy

NY Times Published: April 6, 2009

Socrates talked. The assumption behind his approach to philosophy, and the approaches of millions of people since, is that moral thinking is mostly a matter of reason and deliberation: Think through moral problems. Find a just principle. Apply it.

One problem with this kind of approach to morality, as Michael Gazzaniga writes in his 2008 book, “Human,” is that “it has been hard to find any correlation between moral reasoning and proactive moral behavior, such as helping other people. In fact, in most studies, none has been found.”

Today, many psychologists, cognitive scientists and even philosophers embrace a different view of morality. In this view, moral thinking is more like aesthetics. As we look around the world, we are constantly evaluating what we see. Seeing and evaluating are not two separate processes. They are linked and basically simultaneous.

As Steven Quartz of the California Institute of Technology said during a recent discussion of ethics sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation, “Our brain is computing value at every fraction of a second. Everything that we look at, we form an implicit preference. Some of those make it into our awareness; some of them remain at the level of our unconscious, but … what our brain is for, what our brain has evolved for, is to find what is of value in our environment.”

Think of what happens when you put a new food into your mouth. You don’t have to decide if it’s disgusting. You just know. You don’t have to decide if a landscape is beautiful. You just know.

Moral judgments are like that. They are rapid intuitive decisions and involve the emotion-processing parts of the brain. Most of us make snap moral judgments about what feels fair or not, or what feels good or not. We start doing this when we are babies, before we have language. And even as adults, we often can’t explain to ourselves why something feels wrong.

In other words, reasoning comes later and is often guided by the emotions that preceded it. Or as Jonathan Haidt of the University of Virginia memorably wrote, “The emotions are, in fact, in charge of the temple of morality, and … moral reasoning is really just a servant masquerading as a high priest.”

The question then becomes: What shapes moral emotions in the first place? The answer has long been evolution, but in recent years there’s an increasing appreciation that evolution isn’t just about competition. It’s also about cooperation within groups. Like bees, humans have long lived or died based on their ability to divide labor, help each other and stand together in the face of common threats. Many of our moral emotions and intuitions reflect that history. We don’t just care about our individual rights, or even the rights of other individuals. We also care about loyalty, respect, traditions, religions. We are all the descendents of successful cooperators.

The first nice thing about this evolutionary approach to morality is that it emphasizes the social nature of moral intuition. People are not discrete units coolly formulating moral arguments. They link themselves together into communities and networks of mutual influence.

The second nice thing is that it entails a warmer view of human nature. Evolution is always about competition, but for humans, as Darwin speculated, competition among groups has turned us into pretty cooperative, empathetic and altruistic creatures — at least within our families, groups and sometimes nations.

The third nice thing is that it explains the haphazard way most of us lead our lives without destroying dignity and choice. Moral intuitions have primacy, Haidt argues, but they are not dictators. There are times, often the most important moments in our lives, when in fact we do use reason to override moral intuitions, and often those reasons — along with new intuitions — come from our friends.

The rise and now dominance of this emotional approach to morality is an epochal change. It challenges all sorts of traditions. It challenges the bookish way philosophy is conceived by most people. It challenges the Talmudic tradition, with its hyper-rational scrutiny of texts. It challenges the new atheists, who see themselves involved in a war of reason against faith and who have an unwarranted faith in the power of pure reason and in the purity of their own reasoning.

Finally, it should also challenge the very scientists who study morality. They’re good at explaining how people make judgments about harm and fairness, but they still struggle to explain the feelings of awe, transcendence, patriotism, joy and self-sacrifice, which are not ancillary to most people’s moral experiences, but central. The evolutionary approach also leads many scientists to neglect the concept of individual responsibility and makes it hard for them to appreciate that most people struggle toward goodness, not as a means, but as an end in itself.

April 7th, 2009
This Old Wasteful House


NY Times Published: April 5, 2009

NEVER before has America had so many compelling reasons to preserve the homes in its older residential neighborhoods. We need to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. We want to create jobs, and revitalize the neighborhoods where millions of Americans live. All of this could be accomplished by making older homes more energy-efficient.

Let’s begin with energy consumption and emissions. Forty-three percent of America’s carbon emissions come from heating, cooling, lighting and operating our buildings. Older homes are particularly wasteful: Homes built in 1939 or before use around 50 percent more energy per square foot than those constructed in 2000. But with significant improvements and retrofits, these structures could perform on a par with newer homes.

So how does a homeowner go green? The first step is an energy audit by a local utility. These audits can be obtained in many communities at little or no cost. They help identify the sources of heat loss, allowing homeowners to make informed decisions about how to reduce energy use in the most cost-effective way.

Homeowners are likely to discover that much of the energy loss comes down to a lack of insulation in attics and basements. Sealing other air leaks also helps. This can be done by installing dryer vent seals that open only when the dryer is in use, as well as fireplace draft stoppers and attic door covers.

Experience has shown that virtually any older or historic house can become more energy-efficient without losing its character. Restoring the original features of older houses — like porches, awnings and shutters — can maximize shade and insulation. Older wooden windows perform very well when properly weatherized — this includes caulking, insulation and weather stripping — and assisted by the addition of a good storm window. Weatherizing leaky windows in most cases is much cheaper than installing replacements.

The good news is that the administration is taking steps to help homes save energy with a program that will invest almost $8 billion in state and local weatherization and energy-efficiency efforts. The Weatherization Assistance Program, aimed at low-income families, will allow an average investment of up to $6,500 per home in energy efficiency upgrades.

My organization is also working with the Natural Resources Defense Council and members of Congress on legislation to help cover the costs of making all older homes more energy-efficient. Under this proposal, a homeowner would receive a $3,000 incentive for improving energy efficiency by 20 percent, and $150 for each additional percentage point of energy savings. If 3,000 homes could be retrofitted each year, we estimate that after 10 years we could see a reduction of 65 million metric tons of carbon emitted into the atmosphere, and the equivalent of 200 million barrels of oil saved.

The labor-intensive process of rehabilitating older buildings would also create jobs, and this labor can’t be shipped overseas. The wages would stay in the community, supporting local businesses and significantly increasing household incomes — just the kind of boost the American economy needs right now.

Before demolishing an old building to make way for a new one, consider the amount of energy required to manufacture, transport and assemble the pieces of that building. With the destruction of the building, all that energy is utterly wasted. Then think about the additional energy required for the demolition itself, not to mention for new construction. Preserving a building is the ultimate act of recycling.

Richard Moe is the president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

April 6th, 2009
Jim White


By Steve Hadley
via cabinessence

Jim White is an Australian drummer, and the longtime drummer for the musical group Dirty Three. Formed in Melbourne, the band now reside in different continents with Jim White reportedly residing in New York at present.

As well as his work with Dirty Three, Jim White also plays with a number of other groups, including;

* Tren Brothers, consisting of Jim White and Mick Turner
* Boxhead Ensemble, a musical collaboration including Jim O’Rourke, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and Mick Turner, amongst others.
* Cat Power as member of the Dirty Delta Blues
* Smog (Bill Callahan)
* White Magic, plays drums live with this New York based group from time to time, having recorded on their debut record.
* Essie Jain, drums on this New York singer songwriter’s record We Made This Ourselves.
* Has played live with Nina Nastasia since 2003 and on her albums Run to Ruin and On Leaving. In 2007 the collaborative album You Follow Me was released under the name Nina Nastasia and Jim White.
* PJ Harvey’s album White Chalk
* C.W.Stoneking’s 2008 album Jungle Blues
* Marianne Faithful’s 2008 album, Easy Come, Easy Go
PJ Harvey has compared him to a ballet dancer—but in the vastness of the Garden’s backstage, the drums sound thunderous.
The Melbourne native and current Brooklynite, who first came to note in the mid-’90s with the instrumental trio Dirty Three, has become the most in-demand drummer in town.

In addition to Cat Power (with whom he has played off and on for a decade) and Harvey (who employed him on her new album, White Chalk), White has performed with everyone from Nick Cave to local psych-folk band White Magic. Those who play with White speak of him with the ardor of religious converts. “Drummers are one thing and Jim is another,” Will Oldham says. “He takes a song apart, element by element, and then rebuilds it with his parts incorporated.

In an e-mail, Joanna Newsom writes that White “drums like somebody who is working with pitches as well as rhythm. He’s definitely a virtuoso player. He can cling, with a palpable, high-stakes looseness and gorgeous blind faith, to the downbeat, sounding for a moment like he’s dropped his sticks before resolving into shockingly metronomic precision.”

Now, for the first time in a long and varied career, White receives cobilling on an album: You Follow Me, a series of duets with local singer Nina Nastasia. “Nina was playing a ballad and it got me thinking about the drums,” White says, sitting in the Cupcake Café in Hell’s Kitchen hours before his Garden debut. “I wanted to see if they could fill the same role and emotions that strings and stuff normally would. It could be very subtle and still, but in the starkness you could hear what I was doing.”
via; time out new york…

note; White and the Dirty three have always been influenced by The Bad Seeds , in particular White’s drumming and Mick Harvey. Still, in my opinion, he’s moved on with his own style and nobody around has it. From a stoned burlesque sloppyness to groove based orchestral busyness, and all seems to work.

He’s the man in demand for now as just years ago it was Joey Warnoker, during his Beck days. Warnoker was different though, as a much more polished studio man, while White just knows how to keep his own style in every band he plays in.
Listening to him play…. around the corner there is always a pleasant surprise.

via cabinessence

April 5th, 2009
figure among motifs


Arthur Russell, New York, ca. 1985.

Rhys Chatham and Chistian Wolff on Arthur Russell

I FIRST MET ARTHUR RUSSELL in New York in 1973, after a concert of Jackson Mac Low’s sound poetry at the WBAI Free Music Store. As Arthur was studying uptown at the Manhattan School of Music (MSM), and I had recently founded the music program at the Kitchen (still at its original Mercer Street address in SoHo), our conversation soon turned to the contemporary music then emerging from classical traditions. I immediately noticed that Arthur’s interest included not only the highly cerebral and atonal postserialist composers of MSM, such as Charles Wuorinen and Milton Babbitt, but also the new tonality that was being explored downtown by La Monte Young, Terry Riley, Tony Conrad, Philip Glass, and Steve Reich.

Like many of us making music in the early 1970s, Arthur and I felt that “art” music had become something that only other composers could appreciate, and we were therefore interested in moving away from serialism and toward tonality. It can’t be emphasized enough what an important issue this was at the time, and establishing a music program at the Kitchen in 1971 had everything to do with giving these younger composers a place to play.

After I had served as the Kitchen’s music director for its first two years, a composer named Jim Burton took over, followed by Arthur in 1974. Arthur’s programming resonated with that of the previous years, but occasionally rock appeared in the mix—notably with Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers.

Perhaps the roots of this endeavor lay in the European groups of the late ’60s such as Musica Elettronica Viva (MEV) in Italy, which included a number of expatriate Americans living in Europe—Alvin Curran, Frederic Rzewski, Richard Teitelbaum—and AMM in London, which counted among its members Cornelius Cardew and Keith Rowe, as well as Christian Wolff. After John Cage’s use of indeterminacy and Karlheinz Stockhausen’s early attempts at introducing random elements into his scores, this seemed like the next logical step. The musicians of MEV and AMM thus began working within very loose structures, or no structure at all, to produce a free, immediate music made on the spot.

Taking note of America’s own great tradition of improvisation—namely, African-American composers coming out of the jazz tradition, such as Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry—Rzewski returned to the States and started the markedly influential New York version of MEV. The city’s free jazz loft scene was at its height then, and people such as Rzewski, Anthony Braxton, Garrett List, Muhal Richard Abrams, and Karl Berger were breaking down the hierarchical barriers between jazz and the Western European classical mode.

In 1975, a number of musicians in their early twenties, such as Peter Gordon, Jill Kroesen, Ned Sublette, and Peter Zummo, arrived in New York from the West Coast and elsewhere. Gordon, in particular, was doing something that I had never heard before: making compositions that worked perfectly well in an avant-garde context, yet using a vocabulary overtly drawn from rock. Shocked, I was hesitant to support this mix. But before long, I ended up playing in Gordon’s Love of Life Orchestra, which consisted of his friends drawing variously on rock, dance, Minimalist, experimental, and even disco music. That year, List took over from Arthur as music director of the Kitchen, giving more than a quarter of his program over to improvisation, a clear influence of MEV and AMM. In addition to booking downtowners such as Arthur and Gordon, List also invited jazz musicians/composers to the venue—and not just a few. (Many in the community couldn’t understand his reasoning for this, feeling that jazz composers already had places to play.)

In the meantime, Arthur was living on East Twelfth Street between Avenues A and B; he had an extra room and needed someone to help pay his rent. As it happened, I was looking for a place, so we became roommates for about a year. Allen Ginsberg and Richard Hell lived there as well. I’d get up in the morning to go out for coffee and sometimes see these weird guys all dressed in black with shades—they turned out to be members of Television.

Around the corner on Houston Street, Arthur had a rehearsal studio that we shared with Gordon. It was there that Arthur developed his composition Instrumentals (1974). Maybe I only noticed because I was studying jazz and tenor saxophone at the time, but the piece made heavy use of the chord progression ii⁷-V⁷–I (two minor seven, dominant seven, one) found in many jazz standards. The way Arthur put these chords together was highly idiosyncratic and produced a sound not normally associated with the genre. This approach to composition—the mixing of varying separate traditions—felt transgressive and fresh to us, yet occasionally may have been too much for a regular concert audience. In those days, I was bartending in the East Village and couldn’t resist asking my friends to play. I invited Jill Kroesen to perform and gave Arthur a regular gig, but I was used to thinking of Arthur as a classical composer, and here he was, singing what sounded suspiciously like folk music. He played there every week and definitely raised some eyebrows.

Watching Arthur, Peter, and Jill mixing all of these elements in their music, I finally went to see the Ramones in 1976 at CBGB’s, the month after they released their first album. I was twenty-four at the time and had never been to a rock concert. Until then, I had considered myself a hard-core Minimalist, having studied with La Monte Young in the early ’70s, tuning his piano in just intonation in exchange for lessons and playing in his group, as well as performing with Tony Conrad’s Dream Syndicate. Hearing the Ramones changed my life. I thought, Wow, I may be playing only one chord in my music, and these guys may be playing three, but I can really relate to this stuff. I reasoned that if Glass could use jazz instrumentation in Music in 12 Parts (1971–74), and Reich could use elements of Ghanaian music in Drumming (1970–71), why couldn’t I use rock instrumentation for my work?

What came about was a piece I composed in 1977 called Guitar Trio (G3), for three electric guitars, electric bass, and drums. While its melodic content used the musical vocabulary of New York’s downtown avant-garde scene—consisting entirely of the overtone series generated by the E string of the electric guitar—its rhythmic thrust and the way the musicians played together came out of rock. In 1979, we included the visual artist Robert Longo as one of the guitarists, and he created a set of handsome slides to be projected during the performance, titling them Pictures for Music, 1979. Just as Longo used preexisting images as the subject matter of his visual work, it felt perfectly natural for me to use sounds commonly found in electronic media as subject matter for musical compositions. Though I began to think of G3 more as a representation of rock than actually rock itself, I went on to play the piece in places like CBGB’s, Max’s Kansas City, the Mudd Club, Danceteria, and Tier 3. But where was Arthur?

One evening in the late ’70s, we ran into each other at the Kitchen. It was then that he told me about his interest in disco; about the huge subwoofer speakers they had in these clubs, and how the disco composers were making compositions especially for these frequencies. He encouraged me to check this out, saying, “They’re like temples for music, Rhys!” Though I didn’t tell Arthur at the time, I remember thinking, I’ve heard of composers coming out of a classical tradition being influenced by jazz or rock as a primary compositional direction, but disco? To this day I’ve never understood why Arthur took up disco the way a number of us had taken on rock and punk. However I once asked Peter Gordon and he suggested,

Disco was joyous, fun, and social. Arthur never embraced the nihilism and negativity of punk rock. He never felt comfortable with the darkness and angry dissonance of (what was later called) “No Wave.” Note that when Arthur brought rock to the Kitchen, it was with the Modern Lovers, and with Jonathan Richman’s unabashed positivism and innocence. Arthur was drawn to the bacchanalian aspect of the dance clubs—initially at the Loft and later at Paradise Garage. He was also beginning to openly embrace his gay identity and there was a feeling of communality on the dance floor. In contrast to the punk/rock scene (typically angry, white, and heterosexual), disco was a culturally diverse party.

With the generation immediately preceding ours, the various camps of composers—whether conservatory, jazz, or rock—kept to themselves, maintaining barriers between forms. By the ’70s there were many people attempting to dissolve these lines, yet it is the sheer number of areas in which Arthur did significant work during that era that remains amazing.

Rhys Chatham is a musician and composer from Manhattan residing in Paris since 1987.

listen to four musical tracks selected from Audika Records’s library of Arthur Russell recordings:D

April 5th, 2009
The First Shrink


NY Times Published: April 4, 2009

Barack Obama grew up learning how to slip in and out of different worlds — black and white, foreign and American, rich and poor.

The son of an anthropologist, he developed a lot of “tricks,” as he put it, training himself to be a close observer of human nature, figuring out what others needed so he could get where he wanted to go.

He was able to banish any fear in older white folk that he was an angry young black man — with smiles, courtesy and, as he wrote in his memoir, “no sudden moves.” He learned negotiating skills as a community organizer and was able to ascend to the presidency of the Harvard Law Review by letting a disparate band of self-regarding eggheads feel that they were being heard and heeded.

As Charles J. Ogletree Jr., a Harvard law professor who mentored the young Obama, put it, “He can enter your space and organize your thoughts without necessarily revealing his own concerns and conflicts.” He can leave you thinking he agrees, when often he’s only agreeing to leave you thinking he agrees.

He privately rolls his eyes at the way many in politics and government spend so much time preening and maneuvering for credit rather than simply doing their jobs. Yet with that detached and novelistic eye that allows him to be a great writer, he is also able to do a kind of political jujitsu, where he assesses the bluster and insecurities of other politicians, defuses them, and then uses them to his advantage.

Gabriel Byrne’s brooding psychoanalyst on “In Treatment” might envy Barack Obama’s calming psychoanalysis in Europe. He may not have come away with all he wanted substantively. His hand was too weak going in, and there was too much hostility toward America, thanks to W.’s blunders and Cheney’s bullying. But he showed a psychological finesse that has been missing from American leadership for a long time.

“Each country has its own quirks,” he said at his London press conference, indicating that you had to intuit how much you could prod each leader.

W. always bragged about his instincts, saying he knew whom to trust based on his gut. But even with the help of psychologists putting together profiles of dictators and other major players for our intelligence services, Bush and his inner circle were extraordinarily obtuse about reading the motivations and the intentions of friends and foes.

How could it never occur to them that Saddam Hussein might simply be bluffing about the size of his W.M.D. arsenal to keep the Iranians and other antagonists at bay?

W. bristled at French and German leaders because he thought they were condescending to him. He thought he saw into Vladimir Putin’s soul until the Russian leader showed his totalitarian stripes.

W. and Condi were so clueless about the mind-set of Palestinians that Condi was blindsided by the Hamas victory in 2006, learning the news from TV as she did the elliptical at 5 a.m. in the gym of her Watergate apartment.

The Bush chuckleheads misread the world and insisted that everyone else go along with their deluded perception, and they bullied the world and got huffy if the world didn’t quickly fall in line.

President Obama, by contrast, employed smart psychology in the global club, even on small things, like asking other leaders if they wanted to start talking first at news conferences.

With Anglo-American capitalism on trial and Gordon Brown floundering in the polls, Mr. Obama took pains to drape an arm around “Gordon” and return to using the phrase “special relationship.” He gave a shout-out to the Brown kids, saying he’d talked dinosaurs with them.

He won points with a prickly Sarkozy when he intervened in an argument about tax havens between the French and Chinese leaders, pulling them into a corner to help them “get this all in some kind of perspective” and find a middle ground. Mr. Obama also played to the ego of the Napoleonic French leader, saying at their press conference, “He’s courageous on so many fronts, it’s hard to keep up.”

Soon Sarko was back gushing over his charmant Americain ami.

Having an Iowa-style town hall in Strasbourg with enthusiastic French and German students was a clever ploy to underscore his popularity on the world stage, and put European leaders on notice that many of their constituents are also his.

Like a good shrink, the president listens; it’s a way of flattering his subjects and sussing them out without having to fathom what’s in their soul. “It is easy to talk to him,” Dmitri Medvedev said after their meeting. “He can listen.” The Russian president called the American one “my new comrade.”

Mr. Obama, the least silly of men, was even willing to mug for a silly Facebook-ready picture, grinning and giving a thumbs-up with Medvedev and a goofy-looking Silvio Berlusconi.

Now that America can’t put everyone under its thumb, a thumbs-up and a killer smile can go a long way.

April 4th, 2009
My Fantasy Relapse


April 3, 2009, NY Times Magazine
By Sacha Z. Scoblic

Lots of addicts in recovery worry that they might relapse if they hang out with old friends, if they lose their job, or if a loved one dies. I worry I might relapse if an exciting opportunity to get wasted with a celebrity comes along.

Recently, a friend told me an amazing story. During the summer of 2004, she had been in Aspen, Colo., when her pal’s cell phone rang. The pal answered the phone, explained the situation to my friend, and said, “Are you in?” The next thing she knew, she was at a house known to many as Owl Farm. There, she and a small group of people clustered around a bald man with tinted glasses and a penchant for pills. It was Hunter S. Thompson. And, while my friend and a few others smoked pot and drank wine, Thompson actually read to them — excerpts of his own work from original 1970s issues of RollingStone magazine. Several months after my friend had met him, the great writer died. “Huh,” I said. After composing myself — I wavered in a kind of stunned jealousy for a few moments — I became consumed with just one thought: obviously, in that situation, I would have to relapse.

I was and am a Thompson fan. Perhaps because his addictions and his prose were so entwined and so visceral. Perhaps because he was writing during a time I always wished I had come of age in. And so, for several long days, I obsessed over what avenues I might have taken in life to put me in a position to meet Hunter S. Thompson and have him read to me from an original Rolling Stone magazine while at Owl Farm. I even realized that — ha! — the night in question was almost a year before I quit drugs and alcohol. As if the fantasy could now be guilt-free. As if now, should time travel suddenly exist and should I be able to become my friend for a night, I’d be good to go.

And I can imagine it so well! While Thompson tells me about the Vegas articles, he hands me some patented cocktail of substances; maybe I demur at first, but then he says, “Every now and then when your life gets complicated and the weasels start closing in, the only cure is to load up on heinous chemicals—and then drive like a bastard from Hollywood to Las Vegas with the music at top volume and at least a pint of ether.”

More and more, it began to seem prudent to plan for such an evening, not of time travel and body-swapping, but of not-to-be-missed relapse opportunities. I thought I should make a top-five list, a kind of get-out-of-jail-free card should the chance arise to, say, party and jam with George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars. I would flash my relapse pass to the heavens and say, “It’s cool. I’m allowed to drink in this situation.” But then I realized I hadn’t listened to Parliament-Funkadelic since college and I don’t actually play an instrument, so jamming would just be embarrassing. Really, Clinton and crew just seem like a fun bunch, but they’re not actually relapse-worthy. In fact, the more I tried to create a relapse pass, the more I realized how few potential scenarios excited me.

The truth is that there is no one alive I want to lose my sobriety over. Who is there? Amy Winehouse? We could spend the night shooting up while she nursed a pet mouse and I slouched on her tanning bed and waited for dawn. It just seems like a waste of a trip to London. Lindsay Lohan? We could drink vodka and Red Bull, dance until we sweated out our glitter body lotion, and then drive her Bentley into her beach house. I’m exhausted just thinking about that. While there are plenty of living artists I would love to meet, I cannot think of any with whom I would need to have an exotic chemical experience. Now, if Jack Kerouac passed me “tea” and whiskey at a jazz club, Truman Capote offered me a cocktail, or Dorothy Parker ordered a bottle and then asked what I was having — well, those are different stories altogether. Clearly, I’ve romanticized drinking with dead writers.

Alas, with my living celebrity relapse dance card still empty, I thought I might plan for a more realistic scenario. Like nuclear holocaust or asteroids. So I briefly flirted with including the end of the world on my relapse pass. But then I remembered that I was not 16 years old, and I would much rather spend time with my husband, dog, and family in my final hours than with a bottle of vodka and a gallon of Ocean Spray cranberry juice. If anything, I’d like to be so sober at the end of the world that I can clearly communicate to my loved ones how much they mean to me and be open to receiving that kind of message, too. I’m all about soaking up the love. (Even now, though, I can hear a former version of myself gagging a little and saying, “Oh, puhlease!” Of course, that’s the same version of myself who thought that it was just hysterical when I almost burned down my apartment building. Whoops!)

But these days, I am mostly out of the habit of thinking about the next raging party. When I watch a movie with lots of drugs and alcohol, I squirm. When I see friends drunk, I want to flee, not join in. These days my fantasies are more likely to be about the single glass of wine with dinner, the cold beer on a hot day, the champagne flute raised in a toast. And, apparently, anything Hunter S. Thompson hands me. But there are no get-out-of-jail-free cards for this disease. There are no relapse passes, because once I take that drink, I don’t know what’s going to happen. Thompson’s party, after all, ended with a gun in his mouth. And my experience tells me that as soon as my brain gets a taste of that witch’s brew, wires will crisscross, sanity will bend, and reason will wither. Experience tells me that sobriety isn’t something I can slip in and out of without consequence.

So I have to ask myself, what am I willing to lose for this relapse? Am I willing to lose my husband? My job? The small world of good friends and neighbors I have created around me? My self-respect when I look in the mirror and realize I have to climb once more from the depths of addiction? Relapsing might come easy, but how many recoveries do I have in me? That’s why I’m giving up on the top five relapse pass — even the time-traveling, body-swapping Hunter S. Thompson relapse fantasy. Because, when the weasels close in, I am way better equipped to handle them sober.

April 4th, 2009
Kosher alcoholic choices for Passover widen


Marty Kairey, owner of Atlantic Bottling in Ocean, N.J., makes a sugar-cane-based premium vodka under the Zachlawi label that is kosher for Passover.

LA Times By Jerry Hirsch
April 4, 2009

How about a margarita with that matzo ball?

Until recently, syrupy sweet wine was a staple of the Passover Seder, the ritual meal that celebrates the liberation of the ancient Israelites from slavery in Egypt. But now Jews who observe the stringent food restrictions of the holiday have climbed a culinary Mount Sinai to find more kosher alcoholic choices than ever before, including a premium vodka, a $200 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon from the famous To Kalon vineyard in Napa Valley, and even specially prepared pure agave tequila from Mexico.

The offerings are part of what “Kosher by Design” cookbook author and food maven Susie Fishbein calls a “renaissance” in kosher foods and drinks in America.

“Upscale drinks have a place at a table where you are serving lamb shanks and osso buco instead of the traditional brisket smothered in onions and cabbage,” Fishbein said.

Sales of kosher products grew 41% from 2003 to 2008 to $12.5 billion, according to market research firm Mintel International in Chicago, driven by a rising number of observant Jews as well as gentiles who perceive the kosher designation as a stamp of quality.

A good chunk of that spending is on foods formulated specifically for Passover, when, with the exception of unleavened bread known as matzo, anything made from grains is off-limits. Most Jews of European ancestry also refrain from eating food containing rice, peanuts, beans or corn.

That’s bad news for schnapps lovers. Passover prohibition extends to most forms of hard liquor — including whiskeys and many vodkas — fermented from grains. Because it is made from agave, tequila would seem to be kosher for the holiday. But to make the grade for Passover, the spirit must carry a seal or symbol that certifies rabbis have supervised the preparation to ensure that it does not contain any grain alcohols or flavorings from prohibited foods.

As for wine, only kosher vintners are permitted to make wine that’s drunk during Passover. It too carries a kosher seal of approval.

No one tracks sales of wine and spirits produced especially for Passover consumption. But there’s no doubt that many Jews will offer up a mazel tov to the widening selection.

Better Passover alcoholic offerings will improve what’s consumed during the Seder, but will have even more use for the “kiddush clubs,” informal drinking groups that meet during and after Saturday morning and holiday services at Orthodox and traditional synagogues across America, said Gary Landsman, a 35-year-old writer who frequents the West Side International Synagogue in Manhattan.

“The options have just not been that great previously,” said Landsman, who plans to bring Casa Vieja-brand tequila made from blue agave in Mexico’s Jalisco state to a kiddush club this year. “This fills a real void for Jews.”

Landsman now can follow Casa Vieja’s recipes for the Moses Margarita, the 10th Plague — with tomato juice and horseradish — and the Egyptian Sunrise, a haimish take on the classic resort drink.

Kosher, also called kashrut, is a set of dietary restrictions observant Jews adhere to year- round. For example, they don’t mix milk and meat products in the same meal. Foods from animals such as pigs and shellfish are forbidden. Cattle and sheep must be slaughtered by a cut with a sharp knife to the neck. Even then only some portions of the animal are kosher.

The rules at Passover are even more complicated. During the eight days of the festival, Jews refrain from eating any leavened breads. Matzo, the flatbread, is eaten to commemorate the hurried fashion in which the Israelites escaped the Pharaoh’s bondage; they fled without waiting for their bread dough to rise.

“Kosher for Passover” tequila is a godsend for Laura Kerr of Orange, who developed an allergy to wine about six years ago that prevents her from drinking the traditional four cups of wine Jews are told to consume at the Seder. That limits Kerr to drinking grape juice instead of wine — which rabbis say allows her to fulfill the commandment — but left her without the celebratory kick to remember the Jews’ freedom from captivity.

This year, Kerr said, she will buy a $43 bottle of Casa Vieja from Glatt Mart in Los Angeles.

“It’s a little pricey for tequila, but if it’s very good tequila, then it’s worth it,” Kerr said.

Marty Kairey, owner of Atlantic Bottling in Ocean, N.J., hopes to make a few shekels off increasingly sophisticated kosher palates.

Intrigued by a former landlord in Brooklyn who made liquor in his basement, Kairey developed a sugar-cane-based vodka and started marketing it to observant Jews under the Zachlawi label.

“It is a very niche market and new. Most people won’t even know to look for it,” Kairey said.

But thanks to word of mouth, the sleek glass-bottled Zachlawi Premium Vodka — which brags “seven times distilled” on the label — has caught on.

“It’s only 2 years old and we did over 1,000 cases just in March, in the middle of a recession,” said Nathan Herzog, executive vice president of Royal Wine Corp., which distributes the vodka.

Casa Vieja tequila, whose label depicts a building reminiscent of the Southwest’s Catholic missions, has not sold as well. Herzog suspects that observant Jews don’t know that kosher-for-Passover tequila exists.

How much tequila or vodka should be passed around the table at Seder is likely to set off some debate, said Rabbi Eliezer Eidlitz of Los Angeles, a national kosher expert.

“Generally, people should drink the best wine they can for the traditional four cups of the Passover Seder,” Eidlitz said. If they can’t drink wine, grape juices works. Shots of vodka or tequila would not be an appropriate substitute, he said.

However, raising a “L’chaim!” to freedom during the meal would fulfill the concept of mitzvah yom tov, or honoring the holiday.

“One margarita is great; 10 might be an issue,” Eidlitz said. “You don’t want to get drunk because you will never make it through the Seder.”

April 4th, 2009
Mark Leckey and Frances Stark


March 20th 2009 – April 25th 2009

Daniel Bucholz

April 4th, 2009
I Hate My iPhone


Ny Times Published: April 3, 2009

he iPhone was charging. Refined, introverted, mysteriously chilled, my new $200 tile of technology lay supine on a side table, gulping power from the wall.

Actually, the iPhone probably sips, like a lipsticky girl with a vodka drink. It usually does things in a cute way. Whatever. At 4 in the morning, I was in bed, fighting rage. I couldn’t stop thinking about that device’s tarty little face and those yapping “apps” you can download for it. The whole iPhone enterprise seemed to require so much attention, organization, explanation, praise, electricity. I know — I know: in the morning, Apple’s latest miracle machine would fill my palm with meaning and magic. So why couldn’t I contain my annoyance? I had no new-thing excitement. It dawned on me: I hated my iPhone.

I was late to get one — and maybe that’s the problem. Maybe my hopes for the iPhone curdled in the time it took for my perfectly good T-Mobile plan to expire so I could switch to balky AT&T and purchase one. But I had bided my time. And, really, my enthusiasm survived right up to the moment at the AT&T counter, post-sale, when a saleswoman transferred my address book from my battered BlackBerry to the sweetie-pie iPhone.

“Can you set up my e-mail too?” I asked. She handed me the phone and told me what to type. Pressing her good nature, I asked if she’d do that part too, since I wasn’t yet handy with the iPhone’s character-entry system — the 2D screen-based simulation of the qwerty keyboard.

She gave me a hard look. Truly, as if she was supposed to be on the lookout for people like me. “It’s your phone,” she replied briskly. “It’s time you started typing on it.”

It’s time. She was like a nurse for newborns, urging me — a new mother — to step up and change a diaper or something. And I felt just like a sullen new mom, not ready for her role. “Can you just do it this one time?” I said weakly. She poked in the necessary codes. She didn’t trust me, but she let me take the iPhone home anyway.

I didn’t trust myself, either. There were warning signs. I didn’t rush to explore the phone or load it up with apps. I didn’t fantasize about its features, as I did with the feedable Baby Alive doll when I was 6 or with my first Macintosh, when I was 19. Instead, the iPhone stayed in my bag. A hard weight with glossy surfaces, it kept aloof from the animal warmth of my leather wallet. I didn’t even face the iPhone again until it rang, or chimed — or produced some audio confection that seemed cloyingly churchy.

You can see I wasn’t thinking clearly. To answer the phone, I had to touch the screen. Years of not touching screens — so as not to smudge or scar — made me wary. But I brushed the “answer call” and up came fragments of my mother’s cheerful voice. AT&T no doubt works like a charm in other areas, but as I’d been warned, it wasn’t so hot on holding calls where I live. I let it drop my mom. I hunted for a keypad to call her back, but it was gone.

The morning after my sleepless night of charging the phone, a text message arrived from a colleague, about breakfast. It came up in a little dialogue bubble, as if we were characters in a comic book.

Now I had to reply. My throat tightened. “Running late,” I decided on. “See you in 15 min.”

What came out was this: “Runninlate. See you in 15 Mon.”

Why? Why, because of course that’s what I typed! What did I know of this wacko kind of typing? I spent my adolescence touch-typing, convinced my life would be passed secretarially, my left pinkie building novelty muscle manning the A. Then the technology changed, and I improvised an inelegant three-finger style for computer keyboards.

Then years ago, when I bought a BlackBerry, I adapted again. My two hands met as if in prayer, as the thick thumbs took center stage. I liked it. Thinking with my thumbs made sense in a way that thinking with nails and feebler fingers never would or did. And the transformation of thumb-twiddling into typing! Nervous motion was turned productive, as it is in knitting or whittling. Ingenious.

Oh, God. I really was losing it. As I composed my running-late text, the iPhone’s iciness deepened my revulsion. Did this device, which was built never to be cradled, ever warm up? I was also mortified by my illiteracy. My right index finger — the only digit precise enough to hit the close-set virtual iPhone keys — seemed an anemic, cerebral thing, designed for making paltry points in debating club. I repeatedly stabbed to the right of my target letter. It was like being 4 again — or being 90. I couldn’t see, it seemed; I couldn’t point; I couldn’t connect.

And so the iPhone made suggestions. Did I want to say Ride? Ripe? Ruin? No. I wanted to say Running. You know, the way a human might. But with its know-it-all suggestions, the iPhone seemed to want to be more human, more helpful, jollier than I was! The vaunted Apple user-friendliness was exposed, before my eyes, as bossiness and insincerity.

I refused to fight further with the smug phone. Off sailed my text — the work of a blithering idiot.

At breakfast, my colleague said she loved her iPhone. She insisted my typing would improve, but she clearly has more native index-finger skills than I do. I asked her if she thought the iPhone was “coy” or “cold,” and she looked at me blankly. As I spoke I felt like a chippy freak — one of those people too intransigently cranky even to like Barack Obama, or recycling, or the Internet. I thought of how clearly the iPhone suits the moment: Apple once again getting ahead of the game, offering something cuter and funner and more Appley than anyone else.

The failure to appreciate the iPhone was all mine. But I decided not to dwell on that. “I thought you might be back,” the AT&T saleswoman said as I walked in the door. “So?” I said. “You were right.” With some satisfaction, she took the iPhone, and I walked away with a new BlackBerry and money to spare.

April 3rd, 2009
New trail shows off Catalina Island’s varied landscapes


Kevin Ryan, trail coordinator for the Catalina Island Conservancy, pauses along the 37-mile Trans-Catalina Island Trail, which officially opens Saturday.

Officials say the 37-mile hiking route spotlights the dramatic changes in elevation and different ecosystems of the island’s interior, where most tourists never venture.

By Louis Sahagun
LA Times April 4, 2009

Wildlife biologist Kevin Ryan stood on the edge of a rocky ridge in the heart of untamed Santa Catalina Island on Friday, inhaled deeply and admired a vista rimmed in cobalt blue that has changed little in thousands of years.

Fog drifted off green hills bristling with cholla cactus and spiced with the scent of sage. The loudest sounds were the songs of meadowlarks. About 600 feet below, the ocean crashed on the boulder-strewn base of steep mountains riven by wind and water.

The view lies at the 20-mile mark of the new Trans-Catalina Island Trail, a 37.2-mile hiking route that Ryan, trail coordinator for the Catalina Island Conservancy, designed and helped build with pick-axes and spades.

“In a place like this, it’s hard to complain about coming to work every day,” Ryan said with a smile.

The trail officially opens today. A decade in the making, it climbs, dips and winds through backcountry largely unknown to the public and essentially unchanged since Tongva Indians roamed the 76-square-mile island.

An hourlong boat ride from Long Beach and San Pedro, the trail should prove irresistible to hikers seeking panoramic scenery and solitude, conservancy officials believe.

The trail was built to show off Catalina’s dramatic changes in elevation, which make for a surprising variety of ecosystems and landscapes: muscular peaks, scalloped beaches, lush ravines and grasslands enlivened by an array of spring flowers, including Indian paintbrush, Catalina mariposa and sticky monkey flowers.

Conservancy officials figure that the whole trek, which features several long, steep climbs, will take about two to four days to complete. But the trail also weaves past nearly every campground in the island’s interior, while steering clear of Native American sites and sensitive species.

Tramping along a stretch of trail cut over a mountaintop covered with spiny plants, Ryan said: “Watch out for that cholla cactus. It makes prickly pear cactus seem gentle.”

Up ahead, the trail evened out on a windy plateau. A bald eagle soared overhead.

Catalina is visited by about 1 million tourists each year, yet most never set foot on the unpaved, 42,000-acre interior, which is protected by the conservancy. Most of Catalina’s estimated 5,000 residents live in Avalon.

Essentially, the island’s culture is split: part tourism, part conservation of wilderness.

“A big part of the future of visitation to this island will be ecotourism,” said Scott Dennis, director of the conservancy’s visitor and volunteer services. “When most people think of Catalina, they think of Avalon. This trail shows us what California used to be, and could be in the future.”

In the first organized hike along the trail, 27 people hit the path Friday in honor of legendary yachtsman Thad Jones. On May 26, 1956, Jones hiked the entire length of the island in 11 hours and 20 minutes.

If all went according to plan, the current group hoped to complete the journey in less than two days, just in time to participate in the trail’s grand opening celebration at noon at the Haypress Recreation Area, about four miles west of Avalon.

By noon Friday, they still had about 20 challenging miles to go.

“At one point, we came to place where the trail went almost straight up, and I began to have doubts about the whole thing,” said Dennis Moran, 60, a Newport Beach yacht broker.

“There was an easier route around the hill, which looked tempting,” he added. “Ultimately, we were true to the trail.”

That kind of talk delighted Bob Rhein, a spokesman for the conservancy.

“The trail is already bringing out the best in people,” he said. “It’s a terrain like no other.”

April 3rd, 2009
Friends in the night


Shortly after this photo was taken the raccoons peed on the photographer.

via kellybreslin

April 3rd, 2009
Walead Beshty


Walead Beshty: Passages
March 21, 2009 – May 2, 2009

Artist Talk April 3rd at 7:30 pm


April 2nd, 2009
Friday April 13th


April 2nd, 2009
Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve




The poppies are here! We don’t have carpets of orange yet, but we have brilliant patches starting to fill in the south facing slopes, with blinding yellow swaths of goldfields covering hillsides and along the North Poppy Loop trail. The west-facing slopes seem to have succumbed to grasses this year, and the flowers are buried among them. Many other small wildflowers can be found along the walkways, such as tiny blue pygmy lupine, white forget-me-nots, yellow goldfields and wild parsley, and red maids. The upper part of Lightening Bolt Trail is a good place to see wildflowers, with a beautiful purple field of lacy phaecelia at the top of Kitanemuk Point. The South Poppy Loop has fields of poppies and goldfields that bring a rich floral scent when the wind blows.

Many of the poppy plants still have buds on them that look like they’ll be blooming in the next week, so it appears that the peak will be during the next week or two. The weather is expected to be nice this weekend, so carpooling is recommended and arrive early before the parking lots fill. If the gates close to one-out, one-in, there is parking on Lancaster Road and you can walk up the entrance road for free. Remember, there is only one legal entrance to the reserve, and entering the park at any other points along the boundary fence will be cited.

Poppies curl up when the weather is cold and windy. The wind at the reserve is usually exponentially stronger than in Lancaster, so check our weather station for real-time wind speeds updated every hour. The wildflower blooms generally last from mid-March through mid-May; the peak bloom is usually around mid-April.

Each spring, the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve comes alive with the seasonal surprises of the Mojave Desert Grassland habitat. The duration and intensity of colors and scents vary from year to year, affected by differences in winter’s precipitation. Wildlife includes gliding hawks, singing meadow larks, lots of side-bloched lizards zipping across the trail, gopher snakes and rattlesnakes. If you’re lucky, you may spot a coyote or bobcat. Benches located along the trails make good places to sit quietly and watch for wildlife. Numerous burrows around the trails may house mice, gophers, kangaroo rats, beetles, scorpions, or snakes that have taken them over.

The Jane S. Pinheiro Interpretive Center, offering a short video, wildlife and plant displays and gift shop, will be open daily for the duration of the wildflower season. Nearby, shaded picnic tables are available on a first-come, first-served basis, with an interpretive display and a serene view over the valley to the San Gabriel Mountains.

During the wildflower season, free guided public tours are offered at:
10 AM & 2 PM weekends
11 AM on weekdays

Private tours for groups of 15 or more can be reserved for Tues and Thurs at 10 AM & 2 PM, and Sunday at 11 AM. Private tour reservations must be made 1 month in advance by calling (661) 942-0662 or email For-Profit groups and tour companies will be charged $5 per person in advance, in addition to parking fees. There is no per-person fee for schools, non-profit organizations, clubs, etc. Carpooling is recommended.

The park is open sunrise to sunset.
The Interpretive Center will be open through the wildflower season:
Weekdays 10 AM – 4 PM
Weekends 9 AM – 5 PM

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve

via la times

April 2nd, 2009
karthik pandian


March 14 – April 11 at Richard Telles

April 1st, 2009
Their T-Square Is the Jelly Mold


For Hawksmoor restaurant in London, they created a ziggurat inspired by the steeple of an 18th-century church. “We know from history that jellies were once considered to be the pinnacle of sophistication,” Mr. Parr said. “They were used as very lavish centerpieces, the way marzipan and sugar were used, but then jelly became corrupted by children’s parties.”

NY Times Published: March 31, 2009

SAM BOMPAS and Harry Parr have built painstakingly correct models of London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral and Millennium Bridge, and a Madrid airport terminal complete with tiny airplanes.

Unfortunately for anyone curious to see these extravagant works of architecture, they were eaten long ago.

Shimmering, brightly colored gelatin is the chosen medium of Mr. Bompas and Mr. Parr, two young products of Eton and University College, London, who have quickly become England’s leading jelly artists, or as they call themselves, jelly mongers.

Mr. Parr, who was trained as an architect, and Mr. Bompas, who was in public relations, thought it would be cool to open a jelly stand in the Borough Market in London, near where they live.

“All the desserts in the market were very stodgy, and we know from history that jellies were once considered to be the pinnacle of sophistication,” Mr. Parr said. “They were used as very lavish centerpieces, the way marzipan and sugar were used, but then jelly became corrupted by children’s parties.”

The market turned them down, so they took it on themselves to restore jelly’s tarnished reputation.

They began getting private commissions, and about a year ago they went into business on their own as Bompas & Parr. They have made molds for Heston Blumenthal, the chef and owner of the Fat Duck near London, and Gordon Ramsay. A “wedding cake” consisted of tiers of small molds as did a similar party jelly for hospital patients.

They made a multicolored structure for the architect Sir Richard Rogers’s birthday. “That one took us weeks and it was demolished in 15 minutes,” Mr. Parr, 26, said. “We love that.”

Mr. Bompas, 25, said: “We’ll do pretty much anything. We’ve made an entire jellied Christmas dinner, hundreds of layers, each a different course, for television as the ultimate Christmas jelly.”

For Hawksmoor restaurant in London, they created a ziggurat inspired by the steeple of an 18th-century church.

“We were impressed with the quirky, slightly eccentric things they were doing,” said Huw Gott, an owner of the restaurant. “We have a touch of English eccentricity of our own, so we thought it would be a good fit.”

In February, the two came to New York for their first job in the United States, an interpretation of the Marinettian Bombe from Filippo Tommaso Marinetti’s “Futurist Cookbook,” the 1932 treatise on food by the Italian Futurist.

The occasion was a dinner at Inside Park at St. Bart’s, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the publication of Marinetti’s “Manifesto of Futurism.” Bompas & Parr were hired by Performa, the performance arts group that organized the event, to make the dessert.

They arrived a few days in advance, suitcases bulging with equipment. “We were very concerned going through airport security with all the strange plastic and metal things we were carrying,” Mr. Bompas said. “But they didn’t stop us in London or New York.”

About an hour before the 100 guests arrived, Mr. Bompas and Mr. Parr started unmolding the jellies, setting them on plates and sequestering them in the restaurant’s walk-in refrigerator. They were focused on their work, tightly wound and impossible to distract.

“This is the first time we’ve done a double mold,” Mr. Bompas said. “The outside is the Campari and the inside, which had to jell after the outside was finished, is orange.”

With Campari and sugar for one of the jellies and orange juice for the other, the result was something like the drink Campari and soda, in jelly form.

They make their own molds, designing them on a computer in the workshops of University College that translates them into three-dimensional models and transfers the specifications to a machine that makes plaster casts of the molds, called plugs. Once the plug is made, thin, malleable high-impact polystyrene plastic is applied to it in a vacuum to form the individual molds.

“At first we thought we’d buy old copper molds,” Mr. Parr said. “But they were too expensive and some of the best ones were owned by collectors. So we started making our own.”

A commission usually starts at about $450 and can take a week or more. Information is available at

Although they work in a traditional medium, some of their projects verge on the avant-garde. In collaboration with a chemistry professor at University College, they used food-safe quinine to make jelly that emits a bluish glow under black light. Other experiments are in the works, including growing crystals inside the jelly.

Besides chemistry, they have had to learn engineering and also cooking. At the end of the day, or rather at the end of the meal, a jelly has to be tasty.

Nonetheless, Mr. Bompas said that the pleasure of the jelly is not necessarily in the eating.

“It’s watching it wobble,” he said.

Mr. Parr agreed: “You’ve got to have the wobble.”


March 31st, 2009


A live 5-day blogathon of back-to-back discussions, interviews, panel talks, slideshows, films and parties with scheduled and unscheduled guests, themed around landscape and the built environment.

Mar 31 2009 – Apr 4 2009
Rooftop Terrace at The Standard, Downtown LA

On the occasion of Los Angeles Art Weekend, Storefront for Art and Architecture and ForYourArt are pleased to announce Postopolis! LA, a live five-day event of near-continuous conversation about architecture, art, urbanism, landscape, and design to be held in Los Angeles from 31 March to 4 April 2009. Six bloggers, from five different cities around the world, will host a series of discussions, interviews, slideshows, panels, talks, and presentations, fusing the informal energy and interdisciplinary approach of the architectural blogosphere with the immediacy of face-to-face interaction.

Over the course of five days, the six host bloggers will invite 40+ participants from a multitude of fields including architecture, urban planning, geology, defense, publishing, game design, artistic practice, oceanography, music, politics and many others to give brief presentations, each followed by a public discussion.

Postopolis! LA follows in the footsteps of the first groundbreaking edition of Postopolis! held in New York in May 2007, hosted by BLDGBLOG, City of Sound, Inhabitat and Subtopia and attended by several thousand people over a period of five days. Postopolis! LA takes place during the 2nd annual Los Angeles Art Weekend, highlighting the city’s vast array of creative talent.

The following lineup of speakers for Postopolis! LA was curated by the authors of the six host blogs.

05:00 : Fritz Haeg Artist and Writer
05:40 : Patrick Keller Architect and Principal, Fabric
06:20 : Yo-Ichiro Hakomori Architect and Principal, wHY Architecture
07:00 : BREAK
07:20 : Dwayne Oyler Architect and Principal, Oyler Wu Collaborative
08:00 : Michael Dear Professor of Geography, USC
08:40 : Jeffrey Inaba Architect and Principal, Inaba Projects
09:20 : BREAK

The evening will end with brief back-to-back presentations by the organizers and host blogs:
09:40 : Joseph Grima Storefront for Art and Architecture / Bettina Korek ForYourArt
10:00 : Geoff Manaugh BLDGBLOG / David Basulto Plataforma Arquitectura / Bryan Finoki Subtopia
10:20 : Jace Clayton mudd up!/ Dan Hill City of Sound / Regine Debatty we make money not art

05:00 : Mary-Ann Ray Architect, Writer, and Principal, Studio Works Architects
05:40 : David Gissen Theorist and Historian, CCA
06:20 : Whitney Sander Architect and Principal, Sander Architects
07:00 : BREAK
07:20 : Sarah Johnston & Mark Lee Architects and Principals, Johnston MarkLee
08:00 : Robert Miles Kemp Designer and Principal, Variate Labs
08:40 : Freya Bardell & Brian Howe Principals, Greenmeme
09:20 : BREAK
09:40 : Ted Kane Architect and Writer
10:00 : Stephanie Smith Founder, Ecoshack

05:00 : Austin Kelly Principal, XTEN Architecture
05:40 : Orhan Ayyüce Architect, Blogger, and Senior Editor, Archinect
06:20 : Ava Bromberg Just Space(s)
07:00 : BREAK
07:20 : Ben Cerveny Strategic and Conceptual Advisor, Stamen Design
08:00 : Steve Roden Musician and Artist
08:40 : Gary Dauphin Writer and Critic
09:20 : BREAK
09:40 : Benjamin Ball &Gaston Nogues Architects and Founding Partners, Ball-Nogues Studio
10:00 : Mike the Poet Poet and Writer

05:00 : Michael Downing LAPD
05:40 : Bryan Boyer Organizer, Helsinki Design Lab 2010
06:20 : Ari Kletzky Founder, Islands of LA
07:00 : BREAK
07:20 : Eric Rodenbeck Founder, Stamen Design
08:00 : Matthew Coolidge Director, Center for Land Use Interpretation
08:40 : Christopher Hawthorne Architecture Critic, Los Angeles Times
09:20 : BREAK
09:40 : David Burns, Austin Young & Matias Viegener Founders, fallen fruit
10:00 : Ken Ehrlich Artist and Writer

04:20 : Benjamin Bratton Architect and Theorist
05:00 : Christian Moeller Artist
05:40 : Sean Dockray / Dan Goods / Daniel Rehn / Jay Yan
06:20 : Media Panel ( Matt Chaban (Architects Newspaper), Curbed LA, Alissa Walker, Greg J. Smith, Christina Ulke)
07:00 : Photography Panel (Catherine Ledner, Misha Gravenor, Dave Lauridsen, Tom Fowlks, Gregg Segal)
07:20 : BREAK
08:00 : Paul PetruniaFounder, Archinect School Bloggers Panel
08:40 : Magazine Panel Sam Grawe DWELL, Zach Frechette GOOD , & t.b.d

storefront for art and architecture

March 31st, 2009
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