Friday, August 31, 2012

Love and Celebration at the Heart of the Diaspora

Painting: Japanese Ochiba Fallen Leaves by Yayoi Kusama, currently subject of a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, NYC.

Flatbush Waltz, the processional theme played at the wedding of my daughter
last night. Twas like a Dream.....

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

"Dusquesne Whistle": From Bob Dylan's Forthcoming "Tempest" provides a preview of a swinging track from Bob Dylan's upcoming album, co-penned by Robert Hunter. Link here

The album, his 35th, will be released on September 10 in the U.K., and September 11 in the U.S. (Spetember 11 was also the release date of "Love and Theft."

Rolling Stone reported that the fourteen-minute long title track "Tempest" is about the RMS Titanic and includes references to the James Cameron film Titanic (1997). The song "Roll on John" is a tribute to John Lennon, which includes references to some of his songs including The Beatles' "Come Together" and "A Day in the Life."

The album's title initially spurred rumors that it would be Dylan's final album, based on its similarity to the title of Shakespeare's final play. Dylan later dispelled the rumor: "Shakespeare's last play was called The Tempest. It wasn't called just plain "Tempest". The name of my record is just plain Tempest. It's two different titles."

Another clip of a tune, Scarlet Town, was debuted on the new Cinemax series, Strike Back, in addition to a previous cut, Early Roman Kings:

Friday, August 24, 2012

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Nets

Well known for her use of dense patterns of polka dots and nets, as well as her intense, large-scale environments, Yayoi Kusama works in a variety of media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, film, performance, and immersive installation. Born in Japan in 1929, Kusama came to the United States in 1957 and quickly found herself at the epicenter of the New York avant-garde. After achieving fame through groundbreaking exhibitions and art “happenings,” she returned to her native country in 1973 and is now one of Japan’s most prominent contemporary artists. This retrospective features works spanning Kusama’s career.(Whitney)

An inspiring career-spanning retrospective of a key figure to the avant-garde art movements of the 1960s who continues to produce creative and provocate work, while living for decades in a residence for individuals with psychiatric problems. She reappeared from relative obscurity in the 1990s and continues to create work of extraordinary power.

Yayoi Kusama: An Encounter with a Flowering Season (2009)

Yayoi Kusama: Late Night Chat is Filled With Dreams (2009)

While Kusama's Fireflies on Water installation is probably considered as the highlight of this show (with limited, ticketed admission separate from the retrospective exhibition), I was very moved by the final room of the show, containing wall upon wall of her later and recent paintings, that themselves create a stunning,colorful and image-rich art environment that itself should not be missed.

Her autobiography, Infinity Nets, was recenelty published

Friday, August 17, 2012

Russian Punk Rockers Sentenced to 2 Years for "Hooliganism" and anti-Putin Protest

Well, no matter how things change, they still stay the same. As the documentary Never Sorry: Ai Weiwei shows in vivid detail, despite the economic expansion in the People's Republic, freedom of speech and criticism of governmental institutions remains a no-no. And now from our Free Market Goombahs in the East,  a Russian court has sentenced the three young women of the punk band Pussy Riot to 2 years in prison. Since they've already been in stir for 5 months, for the crime of hooliganism (which definitely sounds like something from the Soviet, pre-Glasnost, legal canon). Basically the girls terrorized and Eastern Orthodox Church service by running to the alter dressed in colorful ski masks and skirts. Just Pussy Riot, ; no indication they were carrying Kalashnikov, Glocks or any other weapons. After the grueling trial in which they were imprisoned, silence of the lambs, or Manson (that's Charles, not Marilyn) -style in a glass cube (wow, really? sounds like a scene from Rollerball or something), the girls (excuse me, women) were sentenced to the full two years and as you can see from the video below,  giggled and smirked as the sentences were read.

Although Western musicians have spoken out on their behalf, the judge was harsh in her ruling and the band evidently doesn't enjoy wide support among the Russian population, although sadly, the stiff sentence does.

Mr. Putin indicated that while he did not look kindly on their behavior, he hoped their sentence would not be too severe. There's no indication whether, having made their point, good ol' Vlad, the Russian government and the courts will be able to see their way to commute the sentence to time served.

More on Pussy Riot as fashion statement from DITHOB's fave, T Magazine here

And the report from Reuters on this very unfortunate sentencing here

Monday, August 13, 2012

On the Dunes

Background track here by Donald Fagen (minimize and listen)

Photos by Tony Napoli 2012

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

"Tempest" A'-comin': Preview of New Bob Dylan Track

Bob Dylan's "Early Roman Kings" from his forthcoming album, Tempest, due out September 11, previewed on a forthcoming episode of the new Cinemax Channel series, Strike Back. More here

Monday, August 6, 2012

"Never Sorry: Ai Weiwei"

Ai Weiwei is China's most famous international artist, and an extremely outspoken advocate for freedom of speech and government responsibility and reform. Against a backdrop of strict censorship and an unresponsive legal system, Ai expresses himself and organizes people through art and social media. In response, Chinese authorities have shut down his blog, beat him up, bulldozed his newly built studio, and held him in secret detention.

Alison Klayman's fascinating documentary, AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY, records the artist's experiences in his native country,  while telling his story as the son of a poet who was punished duirng the Cultural Revolution (as a child, the artist lived in a labor detention camp with his family), and who lived in New York City in the 1980s, returning home, to make art and advocate for freedom. The film views the artist as he makes art, blogs, confronts secret police, interacts with his family, and ultimately is arrested and held in secret detention (and later released) all in detailed close-up. This is the  intimate, inside story of a "dissident for the digital age" who truly blurs the boundaries of art and politics. Director Klayman gained unprecedented access to Ai while working as a journalist in China. Her detailed portrait provides a complex  view of a  society at once seeking to move its economy forward dramatically, while its government appears to remain in a reactive mode with regard to democratization and social and political freedoms. Emerging amidst this conflict, bringing this dichotomy into stark relief, is the artist Ai Weiwei and the film portrays his story in a highly personal and honest way. The film concludes with the artist's return from detention by the authorities. He is still in protracted legal battles regarding the government's charges against him of "Economic crimes."  Although initially reluctant to speak out after his release, he continues to speak out and challenge the Chinese government's status quo. The ending of this story clearly has not yet been written and likely will continue to unfold for quite some time to come. A must see documentary.

In NYC at the IFC Theater.
More on the film here

Work Song for a Monday Morning

Johnny Cash - "In Them Old Cotton Fields Back Home"

NASA Rover lands on The Red Planet This Morning, 1:31 am in NYC watch it live

Touchdown is expected at 1:17 a.m. EDT (GMT-4) on Aug. 6, but radio signals confirming the event will take 13.8 minutes to cover the 154 million miles between Earth and Mars, arriving around 1:31 a.m. "Earth-received time."

Friday, August 3, 2012

Friday Rolls Around: "So You Know It's Got Nothing But Soul"

Van Morrison performs "Caravan" with The Band at "The Last Waltz" from the film of the same name by Martin Scorsese.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Jerry Garcia (The Man, The Legend, The Bobble Head)

Jerry Garcia Bobble Head Day at the San Franscisco Giants.
Jerry Garcia August 1, 1942-August 9, 1995

Current Reading

  • Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War- Tony Horwitz
  • A Sultan in Palermo - Tariq Ali
  • Hitch-22: A Memoir - Christopher Hitchens
  • Negropedia- Patrice Evans
  • Dead Funny: Humor in Nazi Germany - Rudolph Herzog
  • Exile on Main Street - Robert Greenfield
  • Among the Truthers - A Journey Among America's Growing Conspiracist Underworld - Jonathan Kay
  • Paradise Lost - John Milton
  • What Is Your Dangerous Idea? Thinking the Unthinkable - John Brockman
  • Notes from the Edge Times - Daniel Pinchbeck
  • Fringe-ology: How I Can't Explain Away the Unexplainable- Steve Volk
  • Un Juif pour l'exemple (translated as A Jew Must Die )- Jacques Cheesex
  • The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins
  • Pale King - David Foster Wallce
  • David Bowie: Starman bio - Paul Trynka
  • Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat - Andrez Bergen
  • The Future of Nostalgia -Svetlana Boym
  • Living in the End Times - Slavoj ZIzek
  • FIrst as Tragedy Next as Farce - Slavoj Zizek
  • How to Survive a Robot Uprising - Daniel Wilson
  • Where is My Jet Pack? -Daniel Wilson
  • Day of the Oprichniks - Vladimir Sorokin
  • Ice Trilogy - Vladimir Sorokin
  • First Civilizations
  • Oscar Wilde -Andre Maurois
  • The Beats - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • SDS - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • The Unfinished Animal - Theodore Roszak
  • Friends of Eddy Coyle
  • Brooklands -Emily Barton
  • Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter - Seth Grahme-Smith - Entertaining and historical
  • Dictionary of the Khazars - Pavic
  • Sloth-Gilbert Hernandez
  • War and Peace- Leo Tolstoy
  • Charles Addams: An Evilution
  • Life in Ancient Greece
  • Time - Eva Hoffmann
  • Violence - S. Zizek
  • Luba - a graphic novel by Gilbert Hernandez
  • Life in Ancient Egypt
  • Great Apes - Will Self - riveting and disturbing
  • Lost Honor of Katherina Blum - Heinrich Boll - could not put it down
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed (author deserving of new wide readership)
  • Living in Ancient Mesopotomia
  • Landscape in Concrete - Jakov Lind - surreal
  • 'There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbor's Baby'-Ludmilla Petrushevskaya - creepy stories - translation feels literarily "thin"
  • Mythologies - William Butler Yeats (re-read again & again)
  • How German Is It ? - Walter Abish
  • The Book of Genesis - illustrated by R. Crumb - visionary
  • "Flags" - an illustrated encyclopedia - wish I could remember all of these. Flag culture
  • Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Ubik - Philip K. Dick
  • Nobody's Fool - Richard Russo
  • Hitler's Empire - Mark Mazower
  • Nazi Culture - various authors
  • Master Plan: Himmler 's Scholars and the Holocaust - Heather Pringle
  • Eichmann in Jerusalem - Hannah Arendt
  • Living in Ancient Rome
  • Traveling with Herodotus -R. Kapuszynsky
  • Oblivion - David Foster Wallace - Some of his greatest work
  • Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace - still wrestling with this great book
  • Netherland - Joseph O'Neill - staggeringly great read
  • Renegade - The Obama Campaign - Richard Wolffe
  • Mount Analogue - Rene Daumal
  • John Brown
  • Anathem - Neal Stephenson - love Stephenson but tough slogging first few chapters
  • 7 Deadly Sins
  • ALEX COX - Alex Cox
  • FIASCO by Thomas Ricks
  • I, Fellini - Charlotte Chandler & Federico Fellini
  • Best of 20th century alternative history fiction
  • Judah P. Benjamin - Eli Evans - Confederacy's Secretary of State & source of the W.C. Field's exclamation
  • Moscow 2042 - Vladimir Voinovich - Pre-1989 curiosity & entertaining sci fi read; love his portrayal of Solzhenitsyn-like character
  • Gomorrah - Roberto Saviano - Mafia without the It-Am sugar coating. Brutal & disturbing
  • The Sack of Rome - Celebrity+Media+Money=Silvio Berlusconi - Alexander Stille
  • Reporting - David Remnick - terrific journalism
  • Fassbinder
  • Indignation - Philip Roth
  • Rome
  • Let's Go Italy! 2008
  • Italian Phrases for Dummies
  • How to Pack
  • Violence - Slavoj Zizek
  • Dali: Painting & Film
  • The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight - Jimmy Breslin
  • The Good Rat - Jimmy Breslin
  • Spook Country - William Gibson
  • A Blue Hand - The Beats in India - Deborah Baker
  • The Metaphysical Club - Louis Menard
  • Coast of Utopia - Tom Stoppard
  • Physics of the Impossible - Dr. Michio Kaku
  • Managing the Unexpected - Weick & Sutcliffe
  • Wait Til The Midnight Hour - Writings on Black Power
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed
  • Burning Down the Masters' House - Jayson Blair
  • Howl - Allen Ginsberg
  • Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Palace Thief - Ethan Canin
  • John Adams - David McCullough
  • The Wooden Sea - Jonathan Carroll
  • American Gangster - Mark Jacobson
  • Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Gawker Guide to Becoming King of All Media
  • Jews and Power - Ruth Wisse
  • Youth Without Youth - Mircea Eliade
  • A Team of Rivals - Doris Goodwin
  • Ghost Hunters -William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death - Deborah Blum
  • Dream -Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy - Stephen Duncombe
  • Love & Theft - Eric Lott
  • Exit Ghost - Philip Roth
  • Studio A - The Bob Dylan Reader

Current Listening

  • Alexi Murdoch Wait
  • Wilco Summer Teeth
  • Wilco The Album
  • Carmina Burana - Ray Manzarek (& Michael Riesmann)
  • Polyrock - Polyrock
  • 96 Tears - Garland Jeffries
  • Ghost of a Chance Garland Jeffries
  • Yellow Magic Orchestra
  • Mustang Sally Buddy Guy
  • John Lee Hooker
  • Black and White Years
  • Together Through Life - B. Dylan
  • 100 Days 100 Nites - Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
  • DYLAN: 3 disc Greatest...
  • Glassworks - Philip Glass
  • Wild Palms - Soundtrack -Ryuichi Sakamoto
  • Dinah Washington - Best of..
  • Commander Cody& His Lost Planet Airmen Live at Armadillo