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2010 recedes to evening

I took this shot around Halloween, up there, at the Griffith Park Observatory. The evening was a bit warm. Clouds took their nap, that evening, and gave it up for clear skies. That's why Santa Catalina Island is surprisingly visible here, a slight protrusion on the horizon. And thanks to the editor who accepted the image, for publication, including the caption I wrote. I think I'll submit a few more shots, to the Los Angeles Times next year. Southern California Moments is one way of touring Los Angeles, and other places around it; my photo is #35, on the slide (as of 12-31-2010).

Now a few years ago, I had also sent a shot of Los Angeles from the Hollywood Hills, to another paper, The Guardian(UK). But on that shot, I stood beside a tree, to include its image. I took the shot in the middle of the afternoon, facing that same side of the city captured above. But since it was a smoggy day, the effect can be depressing for some. I like the tree branches, their silhouettes. But the image caption - which I assume was written by that paper's travel-section editor - gave that image a different spin, as though the shot was taken after the end of the world. Here's that shot archived at The Guardian:

Swaddling Cloths

I was wrapping some gifts early afternoon on the 24th, and got caught in the process of folding the gift-wrap paper properly. I made sure the folds around the edges of the small boxes I was wrapping were not too creased, and approximated the look one sees on professionally wrapped gifts. I think I was somewhat successful. I usually buy gift bags. This time though, I thought I'd use gift-wrapping paper, the kind that's colonized by Santa Claus smiles. But as my hands felt the texture of paper I was folding and taping, my mind slipped into some vague memories of Christmas in childhood, a time that usually involved Christmas school programs, and images of a baby born in a manger, dramatized and choreographed by bodies of children.

I think I was a Joseph once or twice, and a shepherd or king a few times. Predictably, the dominant words that wrapped these yearly programs were Christmas, Jesus, or Baby Jesus, including Bethlehem. Thus, I can say there were many Bethlehems in my past, illuminated by the smiles and giggles of their nativity-scene actors. In these Bethlehems were usually plastic babies. That baby's name and what he stands for are probably two swaddling cloths, out of a few, that has been holding this world and its history for centuries, which may not be babies anymore. The firm hold persists, as the crying continues. You can't help but hold it close to you, and sometimes lull the cries with lullabies.

Georgia O'Keefe

Early this year, I saw Georgia O'Keefe, a film that offers glimpses of Georgia O'Keefe's life, when she met photographer and art promoter Alfred Stieglitz in New York. And the nature of this relationship is the approximate center of the film. Because of this focus, one is tempted to argue that the film doesn't talk much about O'Keefe's art, although as it handles this aspect of her life, Bob Balaban's direction tries to connect, in his own quiet way, her art and her relationship with Stieglitz.

Stieglitz's keen eye for art talents sees potential in the budding painter in O'Keefe, and displays some of her work in his small gallery; there, her paintings sit beside the work of European artists who, over time, would achieve respect, fame, and, in many cases, fortune from affluent art patrons in the United States.

Stieglitz understands the business side of art, that the rich plays indispensable roles in preserving the work of artists. Thus, as art promoter, Stieglitz's gallery courts the super-rich. And this courtship somehow imbues the affluent with evolving layers of taste and sophistication, elements that quietly superimpose and gloss-over notions of barbarity and greed implied in being very rich. On the other hand, this courtship is surrounded by writers, critics who feed on details in the art world, and refine them into essays for the general public to consume.

In some sense, Stieglitz's personality evolves and revolves around the charms and sensibilities of this intimate social circle. As invaluable member of that circle, his appetite for women is accepted by its members, that somehow the institution of marriage gives him social and sexual claustrophobia. Thus, when Stieglitz marries O'Keefe, he is still married to someone else; and while he is married to O'Keefe, he becomes involved with another woman, from the Sears-Roebuck business clan.

Often, Jeremy Irons' Stieglitz threatens to rename the film Alfred Stieglitz, because he constantly pushes O'keefe and the film under his control. Luckily, Joan Allen gives her O'keefe gravity, imposing enough for me to believe the movie still vaguely deserves to be titled under the lustrous banner of the painter's name.

Hard Copies

It's that point of the year again, when you look around your own living space, and think what must go, not the kind one does during spring-cleaning, but the kind one indulges, when a new year is fast approaching. The idea is not to impose some kind of resolution, of course, that you'd now hope to be a newbie super-neatnik, but just a lessening of accumulated things. For me, these things are old newspapers and magazines from, say, May or April of this year and the year before. Saying this somewhat reveals I'm a pack-rat of some sort; maybe. But if I'm one, I'm not too worried. It's not something that needs to be pathologized. Although pathological pack-rat can sound amusing, or can be a catchy title for a novel, short-story, or song.

I'd say pack-rat tendencies are basic to habits of accumulation and acquisition in the imagination of capitalism, a system - some might say - that breathes on hierarchies of private ownership, and, in that regard, hierarchies of power. But I don't think accumulating old newspapers and magazine makes me power-hungry. Although I'm compelled to contradict myself, because owning these publications can mean being hungry for the power of knowledge and information. Many out there make millions from pack-rats, as you know; I'm talking about owners of storage spaces. They guard what you own, and in turn they own some from your pocket, through monthly payments.

I'm actually throwing some of these old magazines and newspapers already, since early this month, which makes me think about bookmarked websites on my browser I haven't used for a while. These favorites are accumulating, as well. And this makes me think about those old newspapers and magazines I'm trashing. Their content is not really gone, because the ever-evolving wonders of internet technology is managing and tracking their content through archives, memory banks of human civilization, or maybe post-human and cyborg civilization as well. That's why it makes sense to throw the hard-copies; on the other hand, what is also thrown here is the tactility of hard-copies, the crispness of that material thing. Content somehow feels more compelling, when you feel that paper with your hands.

Reign of Rain

It has been raining continuously, turning many intersections into shallow, temporary lakes, because of clogged draining systems. And not only that, mud is sliding down hillsides as well, as though it wants to dramatize how things are slipping down fast in the current economic condition. It would be nice though if temperatures drop further down a bit in Los Angeles city-proper, so that snow can moonlight, even for a few hours, for this year's Christmas Eve.

Without Shadow of Flowers

The sun is 4pm, slowly setting, finishing Sunday. I am 75mph on the freeway, maybe more. Others are flying at 80mph and up. I feel like catching up to them, but hover my speed below the 80s, like it's cooler to be there, the way some people hate leaving the 70s or the Age of Disco. Lenny Kravitz spits cool through my speakers, makes them high. I play one of his tunes, a few times, because of its beat, and the way it gives the afternoon some rhythm. Forest Lawn Drive is my next exit, after making a last minute decision to visit two loved ones, buried beside each other. I am now rock-and-rolling towards a field of death-beds. Beside the road are flower vendors who cause attentions of rushing drivers to crash into them.

I decide to leave out flowers on this visit. There are already flowers beside the tombstones; they look fresh, from someone's recent visit. I assume that recent visitor has cleaned the stones carefully, because dirt and soil are not stuck around the letters and numbers on the stones. Goaded by vague superstition, I make some numerical calculations on the number of letters and numbers on the stones, to come up with numerical similarities, to force out mysteries from the results. Some cemetery visitors around or near me must have thought I was deep in prayer, because of my posture, and the suggestion of concentration it conveyed.

Cold breezes remind me what I needed to do that night. I do not stay long there. I should've said a prayer. But I do not know what I would've said. I think it is better to visit the dead when one is at home, drinking coffee, staring at the sky outside, at a wall, while on a traffic jam, browsing through photo albums, or in one's writing, in an essay, story, or poem. Visiting someone's grave is depressing, is affirming not only the dead-ness of dead bodies one used to know but their souls as well, like they're not part of you now, and, therefore, must warrant a 'physical' visit to pull them back to your memory. Whenever I see those stones, I see memories named in stone. I go back there, over and over again, as though trying to reclaim alignments, inevitable displacements.

Braverman - Escora

Image Source: HIRAYA GALLERY
INNOCUOUS - KIKO ESCORA
122 x 113 cm. Charcoal on Paper. 2001.


†††††††††

Winter Blues
Kate Braverman

The women are extravagant with lace
and sadness.
They listen to Lady Day incessantly.
They, too, wear flowers and the tooth marks
of tiny metal needles.

Love is killing them.
Love is killing them.

They buy French negligees
to weep in.
They wait at cold windows
in high-heeled satin sandals,
fixed like moths in reverse,
drunk on the draft.
Their feet turn blue.

Young men refuse them,
saying they hate women that cling.
Their arms fall off.

They are exquisite with silence,
undemanding as a vase of out-of-season
gardenias, perishing quiet as transplanted skin.

They chart their abandonment.
Glistening empty shell
of vodka and heroin.
They know what it is to be limbless,
to bury a father,
to cross the damp grass,
select the plot.
Their daughters don’t call.
It’s been six years since that cruise to Jamaica.

Love is killing them.
Love is killing them.


They do not expect marriage proposals
or hand-painted dolls of porcelain
in a Christmas stocking.
They’re no one’s girl.
That’s how the cards fell.
Seven of cups, the kings upended.

They keep going, polishing their scars,
begging for love, saying give me a postcard,
a trinket, a pat on the head,
a promise, even if you break it.

Night is dammed by hidden gas lamps,
chill as the rained into basement rooms
where forbidden séances are held
and the occasional dead enter
edgy as insomniacs,
nerves bitten raw by worms,
flesh diaphanous as incense.

Such women are tough as glass.
Sing to them, they shatter.


This poem is borrowed from
katebraverman.com.


Tao Lin


Video-Clip Source: Tao Lin Blog

I feel I'm clicking my mouse endlessly to numerous links, and the mouse's journey through information, after information, and into information forms a highly elastic narrative. It feels brilliant. There are times I remember Ron Silliman. But that's not a comparison.

Intransitive Drive

Night lights can be comforting, while driving home from work. They give you a glow inside, shades and saturations of neon in salty fast-food, dripping greasy welcome to another phase in your day-night convergences. You don't want to drive fast, because you don't really want to go home yet. You pretend you are homeless, wandering, on the road, at home in anything intangible. You think about buying groceries, putting gas in your car, or stop by a convenience store for a cup of coffee. The options are laid out before you, ready to be ignored. You keep driving into what you're about to think or do spontaneously.

You don't take the freeway this time, but a longer route, through a road that winds downhill. Again, there's music in your car, but its volume isn't too loud. Traffic lights appear between long intervals on that road. You don't want to stop on a red light, and so you press on your gas the way you press in what can be. On your rear-view mirror, you see cars, and feel the shadows in your thoughts. Soon, you will tailgate someone yourself, who will get annoyed and slow down a bit.

Trees along the road uniform to colors of denied expectations, the color of shadows, silhouettes. You've opened your window a bit for some air. You glance at the time on your dashboard, still early for anything related to rest. You can feel the speed of your car. But the feeling doesn't have anything to do with adrenaline, maybe boredom, or that thing about driving that moves your body while not necessarily moving your body, that sweet sensation of being transported somewhere, into the rippling haloes of invisible moonlights.

after a Bad Romance (Lady Gaga),...


Video-Clip Source: LadyGagaVEVO

†††

And to some, what trails
a period of bad romance is an
age of permutations,
which probably nurtures
eras of reputations.




†††


Mood in Age of Permutations depicted here:



Poem originally appeared at BlazeVox 2010.

And for recent discussions about poetry, visit:
Galatea Resurrects #15.
Edited by:
EILEEN TABIOS.

Pollinating

Image Source: Kulay-Diwa
Santiago Bose, "Can't go back Home again", Mixed Media, 87 x 123, cms, 1998.

We dissolve into wounds, the way moonbeams huddle in scent of flowers knotting redundant dreams into symmetries in foreboding. Our convictions slice us through colors of blood, into a body, of convulsions, erratic, rhythmic as bees buzzing around premonitions blooming petals of a city pollinating.

Los Bastardos


Empowered Bastards
Read this essay's full-text at Latin American Review of Books.

AMAT ESCALANTE’S Los Bastardos is a film about two undocumented, migrant workers, from Mexico named Jesús and Fausto, played by non-professional Mexican actors Jesús Moises Rodriguez and Rubén Sosa, and traces their life as day-labourers within a 24-hour period through a narrative set in the vast collage of cities and suburbs of Los Angeles County. [1]

The film opens with the two workers walking on a dry and wide river canal on their way to join other labourers waiting at a street corner for work. Together with four others, somebody hires them for a construction project. Then, after a full-day’s work, they get paid, go “home” to a section of a public park, and try to rest.

But their need for night-time diversion takes them to a quiet neighbourhood near the park where they follow their instincts. Something, after sundown, tells them they must rob a house.

Director Amat Escalante does not show us how they choose which house to rob; we just see them enter through a window. When the homeowner, Karen – played by professional actress Nina Zavarin – sees Jesús holding a shotgun, she screams. But she is able to control her panic and, shortly, she feeds them dinner, spends time at the pool with them, has sex with Jesús, then gets high with them before Fausto accidentally blows her head off.

When the homeowner’s son arrives home, he kills Jesús using their shotgun. Fortunately, since it was the last bullet, Fausto’s life is saved - he runs from the neighbourhood as fast as he can.

Now alone, Fausto finds employment picking strawberries and, as he does so, the camera zooms in on his face, slowly letting it dominate the screen. In this final shot, Escalante tries to capture or construct a quiet collision of chaos, alienation, and memories of violence from his life in southern California as Fausto scans something in the field not framed on-screen.

In 2008, Los Bastardos was an official selection for the Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard award. [2] Escalante’s first film, Sangre, had also been entered for the award in 2005. [3]

Since its Cannes premiere, Escalante’s second film continues to gain critical attention that often stresses its quiet visual-texture and unexpected, violent ending. In many ways, its unapologetic use of violence stimulates perceptions about its Mexican director’s political views. Certainly, US-Mexico border relations, immigration and race are elements that can all be readily implicated in the film’s uneasy ending.

There are many instances of Jesús’ and Fausto’s marginal status in southern California that can be explored. Indeed, their determination to survive in that savage world reveal the strength of their characters. But that strength must deal with their sense of cultural dislocation and alienation. The development of this ineluctable collision weakens these characters, impacts the moral dimension of their behavior, and contributes to or empowers Jesús’ and Fausto’s reckless disregard for the world around them.

And so, Escalante succeeds in calling his protagonists bastards, thus aptly giving his film its title: Los Bastardos.

Californios

Escalante’s initial image of southern California is a steady shot of a wide river canal, part of a drainage system that often saves the region’s vast assemblage of suburban areas from catastrophic hydraulic asphyxiations during the rainy season.

This shot is held for so long that, for a while, we suspect the two slow-moving objects in the middle of the screen are animals heading towards the camera. Eventually though, we recognise an older adult male, in his thirties, and another who appears stuck in the twilight of adolescence and adulthood: Jesús and Fausto, respectively.

Showing the small-ness of these two moving objects before we recognise they are people de-emphasises the humanity of the workers, and underlines the dominance of the concrete structure they are walking on - a vast structure built on the complex and calculated union of technology, ideas, manpower, politics, and funds.


Read this essay's full-text at
Latin American Review of Books.

Directed by Amat Escalante,
2008, 90 minutes (English and Spanish)
Mantarraya/Tres Tunas/No Dream/
Foprocine/Le Pacte/Ticoman


Notes:
1 Los bastardos at IMDB
2 Cannes Film Festival link
3 Short article about director on Cannes Film Festival website

Edgy Evaporations

To be in labyrinth of colors probably feels like being trapped in morning dew on edges of petals. There's the scrambling before total evaporation, when night's constitution of dreams disintegrates like words disappearing during acts of reading. The sun perfects this abolition, into flames of intensity, in movements where our quotidian avoids abortions in ordinariness.

BlazeVox Fall2010


BlazeVOX2kX Fall 2010


Contributing Authors: Alban Fischer, Amy Hard, Amanda Stephens, Amy Lawless, Amylia Grace, Andrea Dulanto, AE Baer, Anisa Rahim, Antony Hitchin, Brad Vogler, Barbara Duffey, Benjamin Dickerson, Bob Nimmo, Billy Cancel, Brian Edwards, Brian Anthony Hardie, Ashley Burgess, Carlos Ponce-Meléndez, Carol Smallwood, Caroline Klocksiem, Chad Scheel, Christine Herzer, Darren Caffrey, David Toms, Debrah Morkun, Diana Salier, Donna Danford, David Plumb, Ed Makowski, Elizabeth Brazeal, Eric Wayne Dickey, Erin J. Mullikin, Julie Finch, Flower Conroy, George McKim , Geoffrey Gatza, Sarah Sweeney, Geer Austin, Heather Cox, henry 7. reneau, jr, Howie Good, Ivan Jenson, Ian Miller, James Mc Laughlin, Jason Joyce, Jeff Arnett, Julia Anjard Maher, Joshua Young, Jennifer Thacker, Kate Lutzner, Kelci M. Kelci, Laura Straub, Martin Willitts Jr, Margot Block, Myl Schulz, Camille Roy, Megan Milligan, Michael Caylo-Baradi, Michael Crake, Michael Hartman, Nick Miriello, Nicole Peats, Orchid Tierney, Philip Sultz, SJ Fowler, Steven Taylor, Steve Potter, Stephan Delbos, Simon Perchik, Sean Neville, Sarah Sousa , Bob Whiteside, Ricardo Nazario y Colón, Santiago del Dardano Turann, John Raffetto, Bruce Bromley, Carl Dimitri, Gregory Dirkson, Jordan Martich, Natalie McNabb, Moura McGovern, Jennifer Houston, Robert Vaughan, Christi Mastley, pd mallamo and bruno neiva.

James Dean


Video-Clip Source: directorsSeries

He crashed his Porche Spyder 54-years ago, while on his way to Salinas, for a car race. His star never stopped shining after that day. Three movies, and some tv shows, plays, ads. Of course Hollywood's publicity machine helped create his stardom's luminosity, after his death. It's like, him as object of desire these days is an indication of educated nostalgia, about the 1950s, how pivotal that time was, before the upheavals that would define the explosions in the 1960s. But object whatever, I like Jimmy in those three films, convincing, maybe subtle, somewhat comprehensive. I say comprehensive, because, at least for me, he deeply understood the characters he played. In his films, he gives his audience wild ride into the mind of these characters, the labyrinths in their minds, exploring their unconscious, like he's putting them on a lab table. I guess most good actors do that. I could feel this in Brando, too, although I have reservations about his ability to get into a character, when compared to Dean. And I think Jimmy did something more; he was crazy enough to give in to the crazy hearts of the characters he played. Now these characters exist in a writer's imagination, and what Jimmy did was extend the dimensions of these characters, gave them new worlds to live, and perhaps even not want to live in. In some ways, this extended space is forbidden zone. To enter that zone, I think, is not so much sentence to a mental institution, but a form of autism, in a solipsistic world, where only few are allowed or are meant to be in.

Paris Fashion Sense

I'm wearing you like Paris has lost all its lights in your teardrops, slowly washing me down the Seine.

Lagoon

Tearing out the margin of horizon, forgetting visions. Layers of accelerations drifting through tainted clouds. A bird is left behind, being left behind by its song. What would music sound like ahead? Distillations bared of something called the heart? The ground leaves dusts, like always. Gravity is still grounded, unsatisfied in its depth. There's the pack of cigarettes to finish. But there's no competition in the numbers. They'll consume themselves, eventually. It's just so crispy, this dawn, a blue-green lagoon one can dive into. A leaf leaves a branch, away from the water.

When Summer Recedes Around Punctuations

You prefer sky, instead of blue-skies. Brown grass feels damp. Your angry words are like silhouettes of branches without leaves. You lean on me, and feel like winter has arrived early to freeze our familiar gestures.

Forearmed - Alfonso Ossorio



Image Source: Wikipedia-Alfonso Ossorio


We did it in the eye, beyond apparitions of obligations. We fertilize terminologies now, become secret kingdoms in ideas, you and I, ablutions for this civilization. We hang around halos, and feel the justifications in sainthoods. Why do we feel the cross in religions, the cross in their moral aptitudes? Why do we feel that the moment we cannot see these crosses, we're somehow blind?

James Baldwin


James Baldwin was born on August 2, 1924. I celebrate his birthday through this intimate interview; him: not the fire next time, but a fire in time. He is candid. The honesty: crisp. The interview is idea on things destiny, controlling it. He looks somewhat ecstatic in this conversation, as though he doesn't have any regrets, or if he does, they have been dissolved in the flow, of the moment, words, giving.

Perdition

The persistence in your smile. The crowded obligations. Your pungent sweetness. The way you deface dictionaries.

City

Night wears city-lights again, beaming insomnia eyes.

A Bus

A bus crashed into the heart of the city, and bled. Pieces of broken glasses were scattered; their edges were caked with blood, hardened by sun.

A Bicycle

A bicycle moves on a sidewalk, leaving steps behind. They followed its direction, anywhere in the night.

Devil Wears Prada

I've seen this movie a few years ago, and still remember some of the faces in that film, Meryl Streep, Stanley Tucci, and Anne Hathaway. And then I decided to see it again in fragments on YouTube, because I stumbled into clips of the movie on YouTube, while looking for trailers of indie movies I hope to see soon. Watching the movie this way, in many ways, revised the momentum of the story, because when I stumbled on a clip in YouTube that's interesting, I'd put the movie aside and see those other clips that may or may not have any relation to Devil Wears Prada. Specifically, this fragmented process of seeing the movie is not concerned about seeing the movie's totality the way one would watch it on DVD or movie-theater. Here, the process uses the imagination to fill in images and narratives that could be included in the film; the idea of 'filling in', here, may be akin to the way the imagination extends elements to any movie-watching experience. But 'filling in', here, is different in that it attempts to substitute elements that are in the movie's original, story-line version. And so what happens in this idea of 'filling in', I think, is the emergence of the creative process to finish the movie or even extend it in ways that feels one isn't leaving it with loose ends.

~

And regarding the film's title, I know it's witty and funny. But it does say something about how we think of devil, that it's choosy and prefers high-end fashion clothing and accessories. I wonder if the devil is still devil if it wears something from thrift-shop stores or from a swap-meet stand. That devil wouldn't be much of a devil anymore, but less of a devil, and perhaps someone closer to angels (?). To reduce the devil to elements of cheapness, to poverty itself, would probably ruin our language or idea about devil, destroy our myths of it. And the devil wearing Prada, a product from a country of Catholics? One would think the devil could avoid wearing something from a country of many churches. Is this coincidence?...:) Or simply human nature thinking in dualities, that the moment we think of something, its immediate, corresponding opposite will surface in that line of thought.

Hard As Water

We are falling into rhythms in footprints, railroads, entangled wires. I can feel the erosions, their fortified twilights, gleaming, incandescent as your elusive excuses. There are deformations in store windows I want to be, traps, tones, gothic melancholies, weekends. There are lines of movie-theaters in these deformations, broken lines, thin, large, vague. We fit in the lines, like sprockets, reeled into dispositions conditioned for modest, breezy illusions. Glamour takes my heart, cuts it into saturations of success. I am falling into a mob of eyes, into their crowded gloss. The car-chase finds its eternity, the heart of its driver's engine. Streets integrate into a lost city, a generation of dreams. We are falling, turning into prayers still inventing unsuccessful amens, reviving depths in our closed eyes. The language of premonitions is as tasty as cold water, sinking, becoming sea. This certainty is baffling, alluring as green in tropical spaces.

Whaled Songs

This is our border, our bodies. If only song is not about building borders itself, lines, punctuations, notations, lyricism, the limit of octaves. If only I can dissolve further into ocean, down there inside, where notions of beginnings and endings circulate through the glassy charms in our eyes.

Monitored Mountains

They're just moments, stagnant as mountains at night. Television is gift, language that enrich our extravagant modesties, whispering glamour that guide us out from illusions of endings, finite dialogs. Pass the remote, the options, starred with recoverable, plastic scars. If you look at the top of mountains in the tube, watch the movement of clouds, the lake below, waves of humanity, passing through the outlines of their silhouettes. It's bearable. We are immortal.

Lake


They're soft on skin, as day leaves the sun. The rush home takes it away. But it lingers, and disappears into night, into television shows, soft pillows. Something wakes you up later, around midnight. You realize your window is not closed, and the waves on the lake are calm as ever. Things do take care of themselves sometimes. The rain could fall as the sun rises.

Film-Talk: All About Eve

In this movie, I've always wanted Bette Davis to play the conniving role of Eve, played by Anne Baxter. But mine is unrealistic fantasy, because Bette Davis is not young anymore when she was cast in this movie. Eve has to be someone younger, or who looks young enough to evoke dimensions of innocence and driven to achieve a dream. And too, the Eve character, here, needs a face that can look cold and composed, while suffering internal panic and hysteria. Baxter's face can assimilate to that character of face.

At first, Baxter's Eve has that small-town-girl quality about her, dwarfed by big dreams to be a star; but Baxter slowly peels out the that innocent little girl, to reveal a monster beneath nice, accommodating demeanor. And like many human beings who have added monstrosity as part of their humanity, Eve's monstrosity, here, has moral dimension, if one prefers to empathize with her dire conditions the script has, initially, set for her. Like the Eve from Genesis in the Bible, Anne Baxter's Eve, here, is also driven out of her home. That is the turning point of Eve Harrington's life; from then on, she develops resolve that evolves into brewing passion not to be defeat's victim, but rather its agent, ready for destruction of any sort, in the name of survival. However, her idea of survival is not the basic idea of being able to eat three meals a day. Hers is survival to replenish a bruised ego, to heal it; fame and success appears to be the potent remedies that can recover the equilibrium of that ego.

Eve's focus and determination to be a star is sometimes too calculated to be realistic. These calculations give her life, organizes it, giving it air. Eve fantasizes being the star that Margo Channing is, every-time Eve sees her on-stage. And Eve watches Margo's performances over and over again, with the obsession of a stalker. But what Eve lacks in these fantasies is the opportunity to enter the tight circle of theater community she wants to be part of. One night, she grabs an opportunity, and acts her way, with convincing believability, into one of the inner circles of that community, a circle where she befriends a playwright, director, producer, critic, and Margo Channing herself. Eve is able to penetrate into that circle through one of the film's weaker characters, the playwright's wife, Karen Richards played by Celeste Holm(the real-life mother of Ted Nelson, the one who coined the terms "hypertext" and "hypermedia" in a 1965 publication, around the time this film was about to be made).

I remember, at least twice, Karen's Radcliffe background is mentioned; and I resisted thinking the Harvard in her is no match to a small-town girl's mind. But of course that's not a fair assessment of Karen; her Ivy-league background is but an element of who Karen is. But it's tempting to view Karen as some sort of sidekick; she is a playwright's wife, a friend of Margo Channing, and, most unfortunately, a pawn for Eve's ambitions, especially the part where she conveys to her playwright-husband to make Eve Margo's understudy. In doing this, Karen gives Eve an opportunity, because Karen believes in Eve's talents and cannot sense anything suspicious about her. And yes, Karen seems the only one who has been had by Eve; but she is not alone in this, eventually. Karen, her husband playwright, and Margo's fiance have all been had by Eve, including Margo herself. However, in Margo's circle, it is Margo's maid or personal assistant - Birdie Coonan, played by Thelma Ritter - whose suspicions about Eve, from the start, will help Margo see Eve differently. But initially, Margo doubts what Birdie senses in Eve. Indeed, Joseph L. Mankiewicz's script needs Birdie, as someone who sees the world outside the glass box of theater life. Somewhat instrumental in making Margo understand what Eve is all about, Birdie appears to be the only one who sees the real in Eve. But Eve surpasses Birdie, in this context, because Eve not only sees the real, she is able to see beyond it, and bravely transforms it through power of will and madness. Eve has learned something from her hard life, and uses that to map her future, through the savage, cunning mind of ambition.

Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz; 20th Century Fox; 138min, 1950.
Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders, Celeste Holm, Thelma Ritter.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: On Authenticity, Single Stories, Africa, Stereotypes, Achebe, Colonialism, & More.





It moves, digs deep in the blood, because it must, and it doesn't care about skin-color, politics, religion, even love. It moves, because it is against death, physical death. It moves because there's no other way to be. But in that movement is bloodshed, violence, the revelation of time as human face.

Slide Show: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Genius at Work

I like the part when the voice talks about the map that tells where Henri had taken his pictures. That makes me think of Google Maps, Flickr, or other software that mechanize their engines, about how they grab pictures from anywhere in the internet and map them where they are taken or where its photographer is from.





Source: New York Review of Books Blog


“The art of photography is deliciously impure: its aesthetic triumphs and traditions are inescapably enmeshed in the messy world of work.” So writes Peter Galassi, curator of “Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century,” the Museum of Modern Art’s ambitious new exhibition devoted to the work of one of the most brilliant photographers of the twentieth century. On view through June 28, 2010, the exhibition presents Cartier-Bresson’s work in a daring way—his most iconic masterpieces share wall space with lesser-known photographs from throughout his career. In this audio slide show, the photographer Dominique Nabokov—whose own work appears regularly in The New York Review—talks about the exhibition and the ways in which Cartier-Bresson’s daily works reveal his genius. An additional photograph from the exhibition appears in the May 13 issue of The New York Review.


Dominique Nabokov interviewed by Eve Bowen;
slide show produced by Eve Bowen and Sean Hagerty

2010 FESTIVAL DE CANNES 12-23 MAY

I love this poster, the light drawing, a brilliant idea, indeed. Film uses light to paint stories. And stories are supposed to illuminate, and give us light, the light of mystery, myth, desire.

Now Juliette Binoche's black outfit is interesting. I'd like to think this outfit represents a state of mourning, in the context of many things, the world's economic condition, the bombings, prices at the pump, and, speaking of pump, that environmental disaster down there at the gulf, the gulf of our earth-soul bleeding oil, indeed.

The most exciting to watch during festival opening day, are the video-documented Photocalls in the festival's website, wherein the director and cast of films selected in major prize categories pose for a mob of photographers.

State of Los Angeles

We sun freeways with glamorous alienation, peace in absences, meditative confusions. Superficiality is not transgression, but way of breathing, of publicizing soul. Smog warms movements from one sidewalk to another, increasing desire to refuel at a caffeine pump. There are expectations to patch, delusions to nurture, disillusions to clone. There is nothing to abolish, except cravings without passion, crosses, and calvaries.

ISYBW: Breathe: Close Your Eyes: Be.

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Film-Talk: What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

I've seen this movie a few years ago, and the story still works for me. Bette Davis, as Jane Hudson, gives multiple layers of horror, in this thriller. Jane is hyper-creepy, mean, ruthless, and, above all, abusive towards her crippled sister Blanche played by Joan Crawford. Crawford's Blanche makes us hate her for being too helpless; on the other hand, we feel her helplessness and want her to be cunning and courageous against her sister's wicked madness. But our desire to see this vengeful side of Blanche is a fantasy how we want the film to be. If the script had granted that desire, it would have been a predictable, weak movie, even unrealistic. Thus, the script has to make Blanche's character sweet lollipop for Jane's insanity and madness in the Hudson horror house. Indeed, Blanche is destined to be forgiving, and prone to rational tendencies, even though her sister cannot stand her. But this is logical for Blanche; she thinks of and feels for her sister, in the context of family. Blanche loves her sister, unconditionally.

The Hudson sisters live inseparable lives since childhood, through show business. After their mother's death, they live together. In the beginning, Jane is the child-star. But as adults, Blanche's acting career overshadows Jane's. Naturally, this is devastating to Jane. One night, they drive home together, from a party; Jane is the driver. At their home's driveway, Blanche opens the gate into the driveway. But while Blanche is doing this, Jane accelerates the car, to pin her sister to the gate. The incident cripples Blanche, makes her dependent on a wheelchair for the rest of her life, and Jane's constant presence to serve her daily meals. But that's just how the script makes us think how Blanche becomes a cripple. The script is brilliant, this way, because it set us up to advance our assumptions to conclusions that it is Jane who cripples Blanche; indeed, this is not the case. It's in the film's final sequence, in the seaside scene that we are informed the truth how Blanche is crippled. We hear this information from Blanche herself. On that beach now dying, Blanche reminds Jane that, on the night the car was smashed to their gate, Blanche herself drove the car into the gate, to hit Jane; Jane cannot remember this, because Jane was too drunk that night. But there is more: Blanche was able to get out of the car that night, that's why Jane is the one accused of driving the car into the gate, then left the scene. The crash snaps nerves in Blanche's spine, and thus cripples her.

On one significant level, the film comments about aging movie stars, specifically has-beens whose lives once occupied a niche in mainstream consciousness of popular culture, through entertainment gossip columns, and television news. Bette Davis' Jane gives us an image of a has-been gone twisted, one who harbors over-saturated longings and fantasies to feel the adulations from the glory-days of her stage and movie career. In contrast, Joan Crawford's Blanche looks level-headed to be mistaken as a has-been, even though she watches television re-runs of pictures she has starred in; in that light, she seems psychologically intact or have forgiven herself for attempting to murder her own sister. On the other hand, Jane's madness escalates; Jane serves Blanche a dead rat and bird on two occasions, ties her up for trying to call her doctor for help, and then murders their African-American house-maid, Elvira, after she sees Blanche's mouth taped and tied on her bed. Pure wickedness, you might say. Bette Davis' eyes are two hurricanes of horror in this film; they beat any studio-generated screams and colorful special effects - digital or otherwise - that try to make horror movies scary these days. Those eyes stare, not simply to scare, but to suck possible victims into its claws, taking them for wild spins, into roads accelerating insanities, to grind them as its newest proteges.© 2010 Michael Caylo-Baradi

Directed by Robert Aldrich; Starring Bette Davis & Joan Crawford;
134 Minutes; in Black & White; 1962.

Film-Talk: The Inheritance.

The film looks into the issue of inheritance in families, specifically inheritance as obligation in the context of affluent families. Already a successful restaurateur in Stockholm after leaving his family’s steelworks business, Christoffer is forced to return to that business when his father kills himself, to escape from the company’s financial troubles. The son’s devolving hesitations to inherit his father’s position as head of that company is the force that drives the film’s plot. On the other hand, the force that weakens the son’s hesitations to accept that position is his mother’s unshakeable insistence that Christoffer assume company leadership. She, therefore, helps her son believe in his capabilities to lead the family company, because, based on her gut feelings, he is the right successor that can ensure the company’s survival. Thus, the mother inflicts or forces change into her son’s mind, the way mothers control their little boys to obedience. This view about the mother’s power in the film is justified, mainly because the story has not appropriated enough instances for Christoffer to exert will against his mother’s wishes for him to inherit his father’s leadership position. Christoffer’s mother fine-tunes the idea of family obligation in her son’s mind so well, to a point where his only exit out of hesitating to accept his inheritance is to relinquish his own plans for himself, plans that evolve around a life with his wife in Stockholm.

Directed by Per Fly; in Danish & Swedish w/ English subtitles;
Title in Danish: Arven; 107 minutes; 2003.

Chaka: Los Angeles Was His Canvas

About a year ago, the Los Angeles Times ran a story titled: "Chaka, from graffiti to gallery." Chaka got what he wanted: everybody's attention: especially from commuters, the police, and news organizations. Defacing city property was his ticket to fame; and based on the paper's photo archive from the 1990's, his name was everywhere in the city, on elevator doors, freeway signs, everywhere. He was, therefore, prolific as a tagger; this means he wrote and tagged property very fast, like he had a schedule, on a deadline. He was working for quantity, on as many surfaces he could put his name on. Thus, not getting caught was part of the art, quick escape from being spotted by authorities was a must. But of course, he was caught a number of times, according to the article.

You can just imagine the kind of discipline he had, working the city, giving it the best his hands could muster; no doubt he nurtured reflections his work  was a form of  valuable and unique urban art, because his pieces - really just his name - were created on-the-fly or, in some circles, as drive-by-art. He was chasing 15-Minutes of fame, but he certainly wanted more. In many ways, the city was his gallery, in the 1990s, and  that means he  already had his one-man show back then. Whatever work he  had shown in that gallery the article had reported could not have been the Chaka of the 1990s, but the Chaka who had left that decade, had been through the grind of the legal system, rehabilitation programs, and endless nostalgia about what was  or could have been.  Hopefully, he has re-channeled his artistic energies to engage in work that does not deface properties, including his own - his own reputation, that is - in the context of the legal system, so he won't go back to prison again.

Scrubbing Off Myth


Down, down, to disintegrating myths. Contours blur. The vaguing of hallucinations. Now is crisp as crispy chips, crunch, crunchuously crunch. Color saturations inter-penetrate, into hints of gray.

"Too much?" "Not much" "I see." "Yeah." "Oh Yeah." "Here?" "There, too." "I see." "It's ok." "Maybe." "More soon." "Oh, yeah?" "Yeah." "It's like, you know..." "I know." "You know what I mean?" "Totally. The meanest." "It's like, yeah,..." "Well, yeah." "Oh, yeah." "But I don't know." "Me, too." "Like, if it's like that,..." "I'm there, man, yeah." "Yeah." "Totally." "Totally." "April fools!" "The entire month, totally." "I can't wait for May." "The month of maybes. I can't wait for June." "Yes, you can." "That reminds me of 2008, elections, that video." "Yes, We Can." "Yes." "We." "Can." "Be fired anytime now." "And that could light our fire." "I see." "Yeah." "Totally." "April fools." "Yeah." "Right."