Wednesday, November 26, 2003
Triumph Vs TerryFrom Triumph the Comic Insult Dog's interview with NPR's Terry Gross:
GROSS: Do you feel that you've been sexist or condescending in your treatment of female dogs...Courtesy of Marc at Metajournalism.
Triumph has yet to be unfunny.
posted by kriston at 1:15 PM........
CommentariosShould be fixed, if you've had any problems commenting. Actually, I have no idea if they're fixed or not, but I did do something with the HTML, so I'm going to assume I fixed it.
But if you still can't comment, do me a favor—send me an email and let me know what happens when you try.
posted by kriston at 12:55 PM........
If You Build It, They Will CommentTime spent thinking about Ellsworth Kelly's off-the-cuff WTC design convinced me that there's no way his idea hadn't been considered before. Not as a memorial of this scale, maybe. But someone in the 60s or so, at the height of concept- and environmentally oriented art, surely had that 'Eureka!' moment at the thought of a field in Manhattan. It's at least as good a juxtaposition as a baseball stadium in the middle of a cornfield, anyway.
(By the way, if it isn't obvious by now, I'm serious about the Kelly design. I'll keep hyping it until every last one of you has clicked that link and read my previous genius on the subject.)
A fruitless Google search led me to the sheerest brink of despair: I consulted actual books on the shelf. (Don't fret—mine each had an "index," which is akin to a really slow search engine.) And I found Agnes Denes, who, in 1982, not only conceived but executed a piece called Wheatfield—A Confrontation. The artist planted 1.8 acres of wheat in Manhattan (precisely, at the Battery Park Landfill), from which she harvested half a ton of crop. The obvious concept informing the piece—a critique of the disparity of the lives led by the world's jet-set and the lives led by all the rest, before such a piece would have just been checked 'anti-globalization' and skipped over—was not so touching to me as her prescient comments about the piece. Her statement would need to be nipped and tucked in a few places but it resonates exactly with the sort of feelings many of us have now about 9/11. Her statement is about the positive lessons we may take from the attacks.
And of course I left the book at home, but it is a mighty tome anyway. I'll update with some quotes and leave here a few pics from Denes's project. (And search around, too, because they're all striking.) Oh—I'll also leave a solicitation: I'm crafting these posts into an essay, so if you have any suggestions or critiques of the stuff I've written about Kelly, the WTC designs and so-forth, now's the time to comment.
The statement, by the way, comes from an invaluable "book" resource. Biblio: Stiles, Kristine and Selz, Peter, editors. Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art - A Sourcebook of Artists' Writings. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.
posted by kriston at 10:44 AM........
Just Build the Finger, DamnitWord's in from another disaffected camp: Dennis Smith, a firefighter, writes a NYT column expressing his dissatisfaction with the 9/11 memorial designs. Here's the plebian gripe:
The jury, 13 good and faithful human beings, volunteered long hours to study more than 5,000 submissions, but their choices show a limited imagination. Perhaps this shouldn't be a surprise: the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, given a broad field of thoughtful New Yorkers from which to put together the panel, chose jurors primarily from within the narrow confines of the arts community.Ah—what I believe he means in those two snippets is, respectively, 'Where was the NYFD juror?' and 'Where was the NYFD statue?' Note that all of the designs give major precedence to the victims, but they do not overtly acknowledge distinguished victims. With a troglodytic and wholly self-serving call-to-arms, Smith suggests that "[i]f New Yorkers will not [do something], Congress and President Bush should insist on a role in choosing the monument." Someone must stop these artists! Someone must stop these New Yorkers! That Smith considers these pieces too art-oriented gives me some hope for their durability as a memorial. (As I've said aqui y aqui, I'm eh about them.)
I've got two points here. First: a relevant anecdote. In 1999, Texas A&M University endured an accident in their annual bonfire, a tragedy that killed 12 students. An architect I knew in Austin submitted a design for the bonfire memorial in '01, and his design progressed so far as to land the architect in front of a panel of victims' families, community leaders, students, and artists. The architect explained his design—a park path lined by leaning columns, situated with Stonehengian precision so that on every bonfire anniversary, the columns cast no shadow*—to a receptive if unemphatic audience. When he finished his promotion, one very unimpressed woman in the crowd shouted, "Where's the statues? Where's the ever-lastin' flames?"
I'll admit the sick pleasure I take in that story, fueled by both art-wonkery and rabid, Longhorn-inspired assumptions about College Station. But I'm going to spare you the litany of disclaimers that ought to follow about my support for various heroes—this criticism of the 9/11 monument has nothing to do with that. It's about the universally reviled concept of expertise. I recommend expertise, artistic expertise, in defining a monument that has to stand when our grandkids don't really care about what happened—like how we don't really feel Pearl Harbor. Dennis Smith and the vocal factions of the victims' families are lobbying for quick gratification.
Second point, though I've already gone through three or four: Since I doubt that this set of critics would go with Ellsworth Kelly's design, maybe they'd prefer Kevin's conception of the WTC memorial. I believe it was a gi-normous raised middle finger, featuring a volley of ICBMs and a caption—BRING IT.
*For approximately 8,000 years, anyway, he explained. Architects, you see, often relate better to scientists than artists. Fastidious is the kind word for it.
posted by kriston at 9:09 AM........
Tuesday, November 25, 2003
The Whos Did What to the Which Now?Marc's not happy with the Democrats' decision to go with the Republican majority on the Medicare bill, and neither is Matthew Yglesias for that matter. Amy Sullivan's mad too. See, I prefer not to write about when the Democrats do the wrong thing, because it makes me feel like my party is a party for spineless twirps. And I really don't like to think about the fact that the leader of our party, Tom Daschle, is facing such a tough re-election bid that he's completely abandoned his spine on the issues of gay marriage rights, Medicare spending, and energy regulation.
That's why I'll just note with muted enthusiasm that the Senate killed the energy bill today. No doubt this one will be coming down the line again—when Big Ethanol wants its money, Big Ethanol gets its money, and I predict that Big Ethanol will want a fix before November of '04. At the very least, the next time it comes around, Tom DeLay probably won't get a shot to sneak in an immunity provision for major groundwater polluters, and one hopes that representatives will have longer than a week to read a 1,300-page piece of legislation next time. Maybe with more time they'll pick up little details like subsidies for Hooter's restaurants.
Next: I shamelessly mock conservatives, and I feel better.
posted by kriston at 1:53 PM........
Monday, November 24, 2003
Buy the Loaf!Pitchfork is assembling their top-100 albums of the 90s list, and albums #100-61 have been posted today. (60-21 tomorrow and 20-uno on Wednesday, to get you good and hungry for that turkey.) This is their second top-100-90s list—the first was done at the end of the decade—so some didn't make the cut the second time through. A few of the acts that have worstened with age:
Among the casualties were Sleater-Kinney, Cat Power, Chavez, The Wrens, Throwing Muses, Spoon, The Roots, Mos Def, Happy Mondays, Archers of Loaf, Amon Tobin, Jay-Z, XTC, Morphine, Royal Trux, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Drive Like Jehu, Orbital, Super Furry Animals, Sunny Day Real Estate, Sebadoh, Snoop Dogg, Method Man, Mobb Deep, Low, Codeine, Flying Saucer Attack, The Sea & Cake, Underworld, Polvo, Shudder to Think, Trail of Dead, Cornershop, Shellac, Gang Starr, Gastr del Sol, John Zorn, Coil, Jawbreaker, Autechre, and countless others.It's news to me that the Archers of Loaf ever made the 100 best of anything except my own list. If you ever find yourself in the mood for pure-90s indie rock, go get Icky Mettle. "Web in Front" is the best song under two minutes ever written—click the link, you can listen to it.
Or download it, but don't tell them I sent you.
posted by kriston at 2:40 PM........
Krugman on KrugmanEven Paul Krugman thinks Paul Krugman is shrill:
The [UK edition] cover images of Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney were borrowed from puppets carried by protesters outside the World Economic Forum in New York in 2002. Mr. Krugman said that he took part in the forum and does not share the protesters' views. He noted that his columns have defended free trade and argued that the administration's war in Iraq was not about oil.This reminds me: I read Al Franken's Lies almost entirely on my commute, and I felt a bit self-conscious about it. (I mean, I'd certainly stare in confusion at someone if they were reading the Coultergeist, and I don't want stares from anyone who has to take DC's public transportation.) In reality a number of people commented on it, and were it a bar and not a bus I probably could've struck up a conversation, which sometimes leads to a free drink. That's just a point that has nothing to do with Krugman or any other relevant issues, because that's what I do best.
Linking—also very good at linking to stuff.
posted by kriston at 2:13 PM........
Lunchtime UpdateThere's no team I'd rather see the Horns play in a BCS bowl than Michigan, and ESPN seems to think that I might get my wish. John Navarre, Chris Perry—those guys are just fun to watch play. Here's how things might look, if the big teams win their remaining games:
Nokia Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma (Big 12 champ) vs. USC (Pac-10 champ)Man, that's fine by me. The thing that really bugs me? Texas fans basically have to root for OU in the Big 12 championship, because if K-State beats them than we probably can't pick up an at-large spot. As much as I want to see us in a BCS game with Michigan, I'm not rooting for Mobilehoma. If everyone loses, then I'm OK.
Pro football I just don't understand this season. The Cowboys are playing much better than everyone expected—and Cincinatti is winning. That's just absurd. Tampa cutting Keyshawn... I don't think Key is key to the Bucs' problems, which are primarily injury-related, but after seeing him on the FOX pre-game show—Keyshawn Johnson is as irritating as humans come—well, it's beyond understandable. But cutting him now was too risky. Keenan McCardell and Joe Jurevicious are both banged up. There's just not much wiggle room in the receiver corps. But if it helps them focus, then that will have to be enough, because they have to win tonight.
Amazingly enough, the move provoked no comment from Sapp. I don't think anyone knew that was even possible.
posted by kriston at 1:31 PM........
On, um, FormsI wrote that painting was making a serious comeback, but I feel like there's a couple of other prominent trends in contemporary art that I'm failing to mention. Something obvious, something that just jumps out at you.
John Currin, Bra Shop Tukashi Murakami, Hiropon
Big similarities, but I can't quite put my finger on 'em.
It's highly conceptual stuff we're talking about, here. Very academic.
posted by kriston at 12:39 PM........
Currin and the ContemporaryToday I was forwarded an email about a NYT review of contemporary painter John Currin, whose mid-career show is currently on display at the Whitney. I'd never heard of him, but while in Boston this weekend I saw a gallery exhibit at the Boston MFA that was curated by Currin and included one of his own paintings, Gold Chains and Dirty Rags (2000). (Can't find a pic; think a high-brow portrait of Paris Hilton, craning her neck.) The painting immediately struck both my friend and me as an obvious reference to Il Parmagianino's Madonna della colla longo (Madonna with the long neck, 1534). And moreover, the painting was simply striking—in the grand style of late Renaissance "modal" portraiture, yet snide and pop like Jeff Koons. And the painting is good, and probably what's so intriguing about Corrin is his ability to inspire reactions from the quality of his painting alone. It feels all wrong to look at a contemporary painting for the same reason that you would a Botticelli—because it looks appealing.
Anyway, all these painters who are eradicating decades of gallery rule by installation are really putting the lie to the meme that painting is dead. Painting is on. But here's one for the graveyard: Please, photographers and shutterbugs out there, please refrain from taking photographs of people in either 1) all-white backdrops, or 2) home-like but somehow unfamiliar settings, and especially if said subjects are A) wearing vacant expressions, or B) shown in crisp lighting. And under no circumstances shall a subject gaze piercingly into the lens. Christ, that stuff still makes it into exhibits and it's worse than that 3/4 angle Friendster bullshit.
I'm surprised I haven't seen a Friendster profile for "Friendster Profile."
posted by kriston at 12:02 PM........
The Revolution Was Not Being Televised...but Sue wrote several posts as the story crested. Check here and here for commentary and photos about the successful and violence-free coup d'etat in Georgia over the weekend.
If my grandkids were to ask me 20 years from now where I was when Georgia's velvet revolution came, well, those would be some bizarre grandkids. I'd have to tell them that I was in Boston, and though I don't know exactly what time President Schevardnadze stepped down, I can say with a good 90% certainty that I was drunk. Still, cellular updates from Sue about the political maelstrom inspired my friend Steve-O and I to discuss what it means when an army refuses to take orders from the executive. Those are dangerous moments, because when an army will not heed an executive the path is clear for the army to become the executive. Nevertheless, probably 100 times out of 100, when an army refused to fire on the people, good times were had. I'm not really going for a point here other than the fact that violence-free revolutions make for bad bar talk, and should in the future be scheduled closer to Tuesday or something.
Better bar talk: How to respond to a Southie who shouts at passersby, "You can kick my ass for a dollar."
posted by kriston at 10:20 AM........