Monday, November 28, 2011

Confessions of a Stevedore (insert)

there are several defining moments in my life, instances where a set of random circumstances conspire together to from an indellible impression, one that wreaks its havoc upon every decision i've ever made, upon each thought that shoots across my synapses. they form together an albatross,  a giant monkey on my back, dumb and dumber taunting me, goading fixit me into submission, doubt and recalcitrance fixit.  they are the following:

the cover of an abridged edition of ambrose bierce's devil's dictionary.  i can't think for the life of me why this particular edition was bequethed upon us as children.  i was young enough to still believe in the devil and this, combined with weekly sojourns to sunday school, was an exercise in contradiction i could never quite fathom.  i blame the artwork.  there is an evilness inherant in early illustrations, eugene delacroix, aubrey beadsley, edward gorey—there is something incarnate about their work, a world weariness, an indefinable horror that seeks to damage rather than entertain...not so with the current crop of tim burtons with their childlike insouciance and uncanny ability to tap into the popular malaise.

the contents of the book were a complete mystery to me at the time.  i don't think i ever breached the cover for fear of retribution but if i had, the snarkyness, the topical 19th century witticisms would have been beyond me,  but oddly, i've garnered a general distaste for cynicism and satire, at least for the soul sake of being cynical and satirical.  it smacks of poor sportmanship and bellyaching fixit.

okay.  number two:  the sneetches by dr. seus.  talk about indocrination fixit.  i never bought the ending.  the notion that success in life is predicated soley upon self-aggrandizement seemed even then, at the tender age of five, a diabolical plot, "the most monstrously concieved and dangerous communist plot we've ever had to face!"

number three:  walter the lazy mouse.  okay, i get that it was a kick in the pants to little kids who spend too much time in the tub...but there was something prophetic about it, something fatalistic about it that seemed wholly fixit addressed to me.  this fucking mouse is always late.  he wakes up late in the morning only to join his fellow siblings at the breakfast table just as they are finishing...he misses the bus to school and when he finally does arrive he finds his siblings and classmates have decamped homeward.  and so on and so forth ad infinitum...


work in ethan frome, variation on a theme of ethan frome etc, fantasy on a thene

lost in a roman wilderness of pain.  i've always liked that line, not for the juvenile rhyme scheme that follows, but the truth of it.  morrison was most likely in some survey class, post european debt relief through the fine prism of etruscan antiquities, sitting next to some chick, second cousin to sharon tate, reminicing about some sudanese exchange student that weaned her forever off suburban white boys.  it's sad how passion and truth is wasted on young poets.  they try in earnest in later years to recapture the glory but they wind up writing about the new england autoban fixit society..."the intricate patters of the spider's web
tug on heart strings, fill emotional pot holes, cock and seal old wounds, the sounds of (migrating birds, their soujourn calls the empty promises of an indian summer—
news years resolutions on bar napkins' the drunken philisophical ramblings spilled to a bartender named joe (for those taking notes: there is always a bartender named joe, soaking up drunken philisophical ramblings and re-stocking the peanuts. fixit)
notice to matilda, the offspring of (new england fouding family, etc) the paintings of andrew wyeth (first name?) contain the stuff of odysseus, the longigns of christina, her fallen gate (collapsed gate etc) and forlorn expression; the labors of athena and elektra's (passion, angst, madness etc)

i could tell old poets a thing or two—the lines (quatrains, verses-poetical term) of robert frost have long since been (outlawed) and emily dickenson, so gauche, so obvious...though whitman still rears his ugly head in immaculate proclamations and ringing affirmations (self-aggrandizements)

notes:  with the loss of primagenture fixit comes the loss our great musical heritage.  teenagers used to crowd the aisles of the (benny goodman hall in new york) and later, after they wised up, the taverns and speak-easys on 52nd street...i know, i've seen the pictures!  Clint Eastwood—forget about it.  where do ya think he learned to play the piano..?  hanging backstage at a sex pistols gig?  i don't think so.  finally these assholes figured out they could just pick up a guitar and make music themselves.  with the advent of radio, now cow-towing to a newly landed gentry, the boomers, marketers had a new audience, a younger, greener audience who didn't need the chops of an arturo toscannini to get off and, due to decades of pop music, couldn't comprehend the modulations of bach's first prelude if their lives depended on it.  so, three chord ditties, 1 4 5 changes so as not to tax the ears of our precious little angels, the wisdom and keep political insights of a bob dylan.  all these miraculous conceptions and mingus winds up wandering central park with a fixit nikon 35mm camera.

notes:  not quite bostonian, quarter tainted with mariland stock (marylander) from eduction of henry adams

i've read 20 pages of education of henry adams today and i feel like shit for not having read 40.  i've read the book before, when i was in my twenties, but that didn't count.  i've re-read it since and i've referenced it a few times in the past few years but i'm a firm believer in reading classics more than once, continually in fact.  who was that british critic that re-read dickens every year, not just great expectations, but all of dickens?  i've got to get to root of the brahmin question.  were they just sneetches or did they merit their stars? "and this is good old boston, the home of the bean and the cod, where the lowells talk only to cabots and the cabots talk only to god."  shippers, loomers and philanthropists—those two crew jackasses in the social network who by the way, were, at least in the beginning, true to their brahmin roots.  harvard men don't sue one another.  that's all brahmin shite.  though, of course, zuckerberg was a jew.

an interesting section in the book, well, the whole book is interesting, but this one particular section about adams and his introduction to beethoven and to classical music in general — i think it would be interesting to know exactly when and how much exposure so-called cultured americans received  say, between the years 1776 and 1881, the year the boston symphony orchestra was founded, one of the first and principle orchestras in this country.  we've all but abandoned classical music these days, along with the rest of the world, but america is a little different, in the sense that we have always had a vibrant folk music tradition, a popular music tradition made up of a myriad of different cultures that immigrated to this country (i'm completely discounting any influence that native americans may or may not have had—which, by the way, i believe is zilch.  any influence at all is retro and of a decidedly scholarly nature—in the sense that musical scholars have made an effort to quantify and record as much music as possible.  the majority of so-called native american music that springs readily to the minds of most americans is a product of the motion picture industry manufactured by the likes of aaron copeland and alex north)  so-called classical music is a western phenomenon and arguably a manufactured phenomenon at that if you take into account that our musical scale is a tempered scale, a non-natural scale that has been adopted due to its economy and practicality.  many eastern countries use the natural scales in their own so-called classical or indigenous music.  america's own native music utilizes many intervals that are quite similiar to the natural scale: melodic minor scales, pentatonic scales etc—these scales have a greater sense of resolution in both rhythm and note.  the blues utilizes the aptly named "blue note," a interval between the fixit and fixit notes that comes very close to emulating the natural scales.  the average american in the early to mid 19th century would find classical music rather boring, in the sense that his ears would be seeking a more rigid and fixed sense of pitch and resolution.  suffice to say that most popular music heard in america at that time would condition the listerner to a more restricted set of chords, in both rhythm and notes.  most classical music utilizes an almost infinite number of chords and the notion of resolution, especially to the ears of an early american, would be almost non-existant.  it's not surprising that henry adams had no taste for beethoven when he was first expsosed.  of course he later became a huge fan of beethoven's music and the music of many other classical musicians—notably wagner, who could rightly be called the non-resolution king (though not by your humble narrator) would not ingratiate himself to henry adams until the very twilight of his life—godderdamerung fixit  being one of the very last of his musical conquests...

my point is that you can indeed lead a horse to water and make him drink—the horse in this case being henry adams, the oh so uncouth american steadfast in his morals and character yet flexible in his almost insatiable drive to better himself.  drive here is the key.  one must have a sense of the better.  one must entertain the notion that something better exists and that to strive towards this betterment is a worthy act.  i think that is what we've lost in this country.  i can't quite put my finger on it but i think it stems from the onslaught of popular radio, which in turn lead to the death of amateur music making (at least of a classical nature) and the onslaught of the internet.  the invention of the radio and the internet—two of the biggest levelers this country has ever faced. (i'll address the invention of the combustion engine and the interstate highway system for another chapter, perhaps another book..!)


lartique (add william klein, avedon, more eugene smith
re-reading vonnegut qgain, reading joyce, balzaq etc
dead english girls.  add winehouse
mazursky and his groucho quotes, obessession with film noir, kubricks killing more.
second raters club, also rans

lartique, airborne feats of magic, makes small work of conceptualists, rips asunder...etc.  despite his flirtation with stereoscopy (obsession with sports whpich borders on illustrative, though thety are amoung his best ohotos.  idea that hsi photos were not discovered until decades later, had littoe or no influnce, as did not many other so-called gentleman again to the notion of the hobbies and pastimes of the rich, how making a living at craft is the job of the middle classes, the artisan class.  this plays to the idea of whether the high arts are truly worth since they are aboive and beyind what any reasonoable oerson would attempt.  bring up mozart ane beethoven and the resistance they faced, kn both musical acceptance  and social caste.

notes:  at one point, make reference to ron gallela and his obsession with jackie, the fact that jackie has done nothing to warrant it, the non-accomplishments of her children, thier resemblance to old europe aristocarcy and the notion of the non-accomplishment,

also bring up the poor little rich girl syndrome etc.

man rays toilet inspores little confidense though it shows up on punk albums, covers etc.

whitmans democracy

there is nothing quite so pathectic in this world to see as an old man wax poetic about a 50 years dead fixit english alto.  mazursky weeps in fits etc...  like grandpa out of the waltons, like...  walter brennan in tammy, like.... (quote line from apocalypse now...i wepts, like some grandmother iwanted to tear my teeth out...i didnt know what i wanted to do.)

in my dotage, ive become a joycean scholar, a walking encyclopedia etc...

barthes:  camera lucida...

a photograph is never anything but an antiphon of look, a child gesturing "that, there it is, lo!

pg.  45
the punctum has, more or less potentially, the power of expansion.  this oower is often metonymic.
there is another less (proustian) expansion of the punctum...

robert wilson holds barthe, though he cannot say why (with philip galss)

(great word—equerry...horseman/servant

queen victoria on the horse...  the horse rearing?  no, the ingongruity of the scene.  victoria fat, uhealthy, the stagedness of the photograph.  is she led around like some child on a pony, with a drewl cup and (tops), has she ever been on a horse before, why does she need it stayed. the picture reeks of revolution, the reason the romanovs were distinguished.  i see (romanovs on lonely railroad cars on vacated tracks...   what does this picture signify, a link to the past, english roots, their connectiin with nature, why do we need to see queen vic on a  horse and what dors it signify.

***** a labyrinthine man never seeks the truth, but only his ariadne (from nietzche)

(for mazursky:  collected books on kilroy photos)

for lartigue:        From this, there was a photo spread in Life magazine in 1963, coincidentally in the issue which commemorated the death of John Kennedy, ensuring the widest possible audience for his pictures.


montage on photograohitechniques....  "collodion-on-glass"  etc

lewis carrol and the trials and tribulTions of alice liddell
julia margaret cameron's portrait of sir john herschel

key!  the patient at the surrey county lunatic asylum (compare and contrast our fascinatiin with the insane, their detached"ness", separateability

the plight of mathew brady (civil war photographer and portraitist)  like electricity and the many fraudulent uses , attemots to make money, work in gilded age etc.

was thinking about the lack of any decipherable hegemony in our society.  the inability to look at any one thing and say "this is good...this is great" and generate at least some semblance of recognition from your mates.  i don't mean to suggest that this is a new phenomenon, unique to my generation.  there are legions of dead critics, dead purveyors of culture: ezra pound, edmund wilson, malcom crowley

we followed mazursky from the start.  it was his idea, of course, the panopticon…f'ing brilliant!  too brilliant in fact.  it died beneath the wait of its own genius.  it started as one of a series of schubertiads at dupairs at farmer's market in la, right off the top of his head, as if he was reading the special off the chalk board.  

"take some b-celebrity, some poor slob from some 70s sitcom, willie aames from eight is enough…christ, what an asshole!  you take this guy and you follow him, day and night.  he goes to the john and you light up that restroom like it's saigon, new years eve, 1968.  you follow him everywhere, mcdonalds, starbucks, the dmv for christs sake…everywhere!  but it's gotta be some asshole hasbeen, some jackass that would give his left kidney to be back in the limelight and has exhausted everything from daytime variety shows and reality tv to hocking the clapper on late night cable…i mean you find that biggest jerk on the planet…christopher knight, danny bonaducci, scott baio…now there's a moron!  leif garret!!!…naw, leave him alone, he's suffered enough, but you get my drift."

here's the panopticon in a nutshell.  you follow some b-celebrity asshole like he's chaz bono at a sturgis rally and you photograph him until he snaps like cher, like piers brosnan fixit in his boxers, like matthew mccoughnahey on the beach at malibu, you photograph him until he coldcocks you with your camera (leave your leica home on this shoot.  time to whip out that trusty nikon d200 or canon d40 gathering dust mites in your closet).  actually, getting coldcocked with your camera is not such a bad way to pay your cable bill, but i digress…  suddenly the rags are innundated with shots of this poor bastard, tons of shots and by every decent pap in los angeles.  out of focus shots, half in a doorway shots, telephoto shots from 500 yards away, shots in the past worthy of only perhaps thomas pynchon or j.d. salinger, maybe even greta garbo if journalists had any balls back then.  this pandemonium lasts for three days and on the third day you camp out on his lawn hoping he'll call the cops.  finally the rags get wise and they start publishing all these shots with crazy headlines and suddently, every magazine in town is paying top dollar for any shot of this poor unsuspecting loser.  it's briliant! diabolical!  but that's mazursky for ya…

i coined it the panopticon though you won't read about that any where.  the media called it, aptly enough, the bang bang club and that's what stuck (sorry mates, no hard feelings…cheers!)  regardless, the panopticon lasted a few years back in the mid to late oughts.  it bought me few polorizing filters i can tell you and it bailed not a few paps out of the slammer.  

it all started when nikon announced the D1 back in the late 90s, the first reputable digital camera and suddenly, the game changed.  
[insert pap history, nikon history here]

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