Sunday, October 31, 2010

Speaking Engagements

Just in time for the start of the rainy season we have a tremendous new way to lose ourselves on line. The entire run of The Paris Review’s storied interviews of the most important writers in the world, previously almost impossible to find in electronic form, is suddenly available, free for the taking, at the Paris Review website. This radical first act of generosity by new PR editor Lorin Stein, who recently took over from Philip Gourevitch, has already paid off for me in dozens of lost hours reading interviews by the likes of Simone de Beauvoir, William Faulkner, Robert Crumb and hundreds of others. If there’s a better way to spend the winter online, I can't imagine what it is.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ornette Coleman

The Earshot Jazz Fest brings the classic film Ornette: Made in America to the NW Film Forum for 4 screenings this Friday and Saturday. 'Ornette' is a hazy but inviting glimpse of the great modern jazz musician and his world. The film maker Shirley Clarke was one of the key figures of the American independent film movement, and for her final film Clarke created a highly unusual music documentary featuring the legendary Ornette Coleman, a toweringly innovative yet humble figure.

The film follows Mr. Coleman rather randomly through time and space, jumping from Morocco in 1973 to Berkeley in 1969, then back to Italy in 1980. Coleman's music weaves through a series of interviews with personalities as varied as Buckminster Fuller, William Burroughs, and Coleman's son Denardo. Meanwhile, all manner images occasionally flash on and off the screen, and a small boy impersonates the lonely young Ornette outside the house where he spent his childhood. It's a bizarre film, but an truly entertaining one, and Coleman is a figure well worth spending more time with in whatever form. Four showings only, at 7 and 9 pm on October 29 & 30.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

X'ed Out

Charles Burns is a Seattle native who burst forth from The Evergreen State College in the mid-1970s. He contributed his starkly beautiful illustrations to now defunct Rocket weekly magazine and composed album covers for the fledgling Sub Pop record label, before coming to the attention of cartoonist Art Spiegelman, who published his work in the seminal comics anthology RAW. Burns left an indelible mark on regional culture and modern comics in general.

He returns to Seattle on Saturday, October 30 to celebrate the publication of his amazing new graphic novel X'ED OUT which continues Burns' look at the bizarre and horrific consequences of adolescence, while paying homage to the never-aging cartoon character Tintin and his world. In addition to signing copies of his books, Burns will present a slide show, and an exhibition of new work, old work and emphemera. At the Fantagraphics bookstore in Georgetown. From 6:00 to 9:00 PM, all ages, free admission.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

100 Books

Two interesting books released recently which use the number 100 as an organizing principle.

Seattle 100: Portrait of a City is the culmination of a three-year project by Seattle photographer and filmmaker Chase Jarvis. Jarvis spent 36 months photographing a curated collection of creative people in and around Seattle. The book compiles 100 of his black-and-white portraits of the Seattle-based artists, musicians, writers, scientists, activists and filmmakers. Many of the photos are beautiful, and it's a worthy attempt to capture a snapshot of a city’s culture through its people. Jarvis is donating a portion of his proceeds from sales of the book to the King County arts and culture organization 4culture.

The Exquisite Book is a project dreamed up by designers Julia Rothman , Jenny Volvoski and Matt Lamothe, inspired by the Surrealist parlor game Exquisite Corpse. The editors asked 10 groups of 10 artists to contribute a page to the book. The first artist was given a few words to inspire their drawing, and each of the following artists only saw the page that immediately preceded their own. Each artist was given two weeks to complete their page, and the whole process took approximately five months. In addition to the three progenitors, the book features beautiful contributions by Caitlin Keegan, Lisa Congdon, Eunice Moyle, Tom Neely, Kelly Lynn Jones, Susie Ghahremani and Lorena Sim.

The book was designed by the New York design team ALSO and just published by Chronicle Books.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Project Thirty-Three

Project Thirty-Three is a sweet and sporadically updated online collection of vintage album cover art featuring simple shapes and typography-based graphics, scanned and archived by the owner of Jive Time Records, a Seattle music store specializing in second-hand and vintage vinyl. Categories include circles and dots, squares, rectangles and triangles, and typography-only.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Poem Occasioned by the Bitterness of Watching a Pathetic Election Campaign in which Candidates Mouth Only Trivialities While the World Goes to Hell

Have You Killed Your Man for Today?

by Kenneth Patchen

In these hands, the cities; in my weather, the armies
Of better things than die
To the scaly music of war.

The different men, who are dead,
Had cunning; they sought green lives
In a world blacker than your world;
But you have nourished the taste of sickness
Until all other tastes are dull in your mouths;
It is only we who stand outside the steaming tents
Of hypocrisy & murder
Who are "sick" —
This is the health you want.

Yours is the health of the pig which roots up
The vines that would give him food;
Ours is the sickness of the deer which is shot
Because it is the activity of hunters to shoot him.

In your hands, the cities, in my world, the marching
Of nobler feet than walk down a road
Deep with the corpses of every sane & beautiful thing.

Photo by D-K-D. Thanks!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Illustrated 3-Line Novels

I still love a little book I first blogged about back in 2008. Félix Fénéon's nouvelles en trois lignes or Novels in Three Lines features 1,220 brief, grisly news items the author—a Parisian editor, critic, and anarchist—wrote in 1906 for the newspaper Le Matin. Now, the Brooklyn-based illustrator Joanna Neborsky has come out with a glorious 128-page book of collages and drawings in which she illuminates a selection of Fénéon's miniatures in their English translation by Luc Sante. The book is just gorgeous, and is right up near the top of my holiday wish list. (Hint, hint.)

The always inspiring Journey Round My Skull has a large collection of unpublished and alternate drafts from Neborsky's book here.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sounds Like Lipstick Traces

Greil Marcus' book Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century has long been a touchstone for many sessions of intense, questing and often drunken sessions of intellectual debate. The book is an obsessive examination of the birth of punk rock, traveling on the wings of philosophy, history, conjecture and copious research to visit parallel movements of cultural rebellion ranging from Dadaism to French Situationism to Anabaptism.

In addition to its scholarly breadth, the cult book also makes copious musical references which provide a scorching backbeat to the fiery energy of its obsessions. The bloggers over at Lucky Psychic have unearthed a soundtrack to the book released by Rough Trade in the UK back in 1993.

It's a smart and powerful collection of music that takes you a 60-minute journey from The Slits "A Boring Life" through the 1948 recording of The Orioles "It's Too Soon To Know," past a wild recreation of "L'amiral cherche une maison à louer," composed by Tristan Tzara in 1916 and performed at the Cabaret Voltaire, past an utterly unexpected reading by Marie Osmond of a Dada sound poem by Hugo Ball and back to "Boredom" by the Buzzcocks. It's terrific played alongside the book, but it also stands on its own as an awesome mix tape that presents familiar punk bands in a way that makes them fresh again by placing them in a context of original, primal alienation.

Download the whole thing here. You can also download the original record sleeve with quotes from Greil Marcus, and liner notes by Jon Savage. Good stuff.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Read All About It

I have a lot of friends who know how to make pretty things out of cardboard. But I don't know anyone who could build something like this.

Kiel Johnson has built a fully functional printing press using primarily cardboard. The press is up and running as part of a new show titled "Publish or Perish" at Mark Moore Gallery in Santa Monica, California. The incredible machine releases sheets of poster-sized paper printed with tiny drawings of all of Johnson’s belongings, from clothes hangers to houseplants. In addition to the printing press, the show features Johnson's working cardboard camera, cardboard radio and other equally impressive objects.

On view now.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Prints by Spitzack

Seattle print maker Charles Spitzack has a beautiful new show of woodblock prints and lithographs up at Bauhaus Books & Coffee, 301 E Pine St. on Capitol Hill. Spitzack is a young but tremendously accomplished print maker, having graduated from Cornish just last year and already recognized as one of Seattle's best, with an appearance earlier this year in Seattle Print Arts' ten-year anniversary collection. His images are both subtle and strong, showing a truly masterful use of line and color. His work can be as bold as a sharp stick, or as gentle as a breath through lace. The show, titled "Far Away Home," opened Oct 1st and runs through Nov 1st, but the opening reception is Oct 14th at 7pm with party to follow. See it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Alex Ross

Alex Ross, music critic of The New Yorker and author of the hugely entertaining and informative bestseller The Rest Is Noise, comes to Seattle on October 12 to lead his audience through a whirlwind history of music as told through bass lines. In an audio-rich lecture based on a chapter of his follow-up book, Listen to This, Ross shows how lusty Spanish dances were transformed into somber masterpieces of Purcell, Bach, and Fats Waller; he also explores the fascinating link between figures of lament in Eastern European folk music, Renaissance Masses, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, and the songs of Bob Dylan. Billed as "an extraordinary tale of the interconnectedness of musical language and the universality of human emotion," this should be great.

At Town Hall Seattle, Tuesday October 12th, at 7:30. Tickets are just $5 and available here.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Up Up and Away

Tell me Luke Geissbühler doesn't deserve to win some kind of Father of the Year award.

This past August, Geissbühler and his young son Max attached an HD video camera to a helium-filled weather balloon that rose into the upper stratosphere. The two spent eight months developing a camera housing that would survive 100 mph winds, temperatures of 60 degrees below zero and speeds of over 150 mph.

The intrepid duo then traveled from their home in Brooklyn to a remote area of Orange County, NY with their camera and a GPS system carefully wrapped in a homemade styrofoam capsule and fitted with a parachute. The balloon reached a height of nearly 20 miles above the earth before it exploded and the camera came spiraling back to Earth.

The result is an awe-inspiring video that sends the viewer into space and back again. Check it out.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Caps 4 Slats

Up on Capitol Hill, artist Cameron Larson is finishing a mosaic made from bottle caps on the wall surrounding the Sound Transit project. Larson has been making pictures with various forms of pixels since his time at Cornish College, and this large image is his first attempt at taking his technique public.

When finished, the piece will be a portrait of Chris Harvey, aks "Slats," the musician and Capitol Hill habitué who died back in March.

The blog CHS has an interview with Larson here.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bicycle Film Festival

That last post reminds me...

The 10th annual International Bicycle Film Festival rolls into Seattle this week, from October 7-10. One of the Seattle organizers, Ryan from Go Means Go!, has been working overtime to get some worthy Seattle-made films included in the international touring program, and he succeeded gloriously. Among a small handful of locally produced films is Man Zou, a gorgeous travelogue by Jason Reid about biking from Beijing to Shanghai in a rapidly-changing China. The festival kicks off this Thursday at the King Cat Lounge at 2130 6th Ave. with a DJ set by hip hop legend Prince Paul, followed by three days of film screenings at Western Bridge in SoDo. The festival pass is $35, and individual tickets cost $10. The after parties are free. The full schedule is right here. (Watch the trailer for Man Zou here. The film itself screens on October 10th at 5 p.m.)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fixed dexiF

A beautiful and hypnotic little bike film from Dan Nasser out of Savannah, GA.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Love Letter to Syracuse

Sign painter and graffiti artist Stephen Powers is in Syracuse, New York painting gigantic slogans on the surfaces of three formerly rusty train bridges.

"A Love Letter to Syracuse" involves painting phrases that arose from conversations that Powers had as he and his crew went door to door and attended community meetings to ask people about the city. The project was conceived and facilitated in partnership with COLAB, an initiative by Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor with the goal of using public art to revitalize the city neighborhood and to reexamine the traditional relationship between university campuses and their surrounding neighborhoods.

The phrases include such thoughts as "Now that we're here, nowhere else matters" and "I paid the light bill just to see your face." More images from the project here.