January 29, 2005
Rob Weaver, master of surface
This St. Louis-based artist emailed me yesterday, relating how he created a do-it-youself version of Brion Gysin's Dreamachine using only his hands (his technique is described in his comment appended to that post).
Quite modest is Rob Weaver: only after assigning my crack research team to find out more about him did I learn that he's an innovative artist and master of surface finishing.
His website took me a second to figure out, not because it's badly conceived but, rather, because I'm such a TechnoDolt™®©.
It's worth figuring out.
Above and below are a few of his creations.
This will not be the last time his work graces this site.
As Oscar Wilde observed, "Only the shallow judge by more than appearances."
Nicole duFresne, 1977-2005: R.I.P.
I only learned of it a few moments ago, reading this morning's New York Times story.
I wrote about her and her work in Version 1.0 last year.
She was nice enough to email me back and thank me, and invite me to see one of her plays if I happened to be in New York.
I never was.
And now this.
There is nothing to say, really.
Read the stories, I suppose.
The Netherlands - Where 'hot' art goes to cool off
Did you know that in the Netherlands, thieves become the legal owners of stolen private art after 20 years?
And if it was stolen from a publicly-owned museum, legal title is acquired after 30 years.
No wonder the Netherlands is the world's depot for stolen art.
Julian Radcliffe, director of the London-based Art Loss Register, said art stolen from eastern Europe (Scandinavia, Germany and Russia) often ends up in the Netherlands because of the Dutch statute of limitations.
But before you start planning your sequel to "The Thomas Crown Affair" or "The Good Thief," stop and think for a moment how long 20 or 30 years is.
From 1985 until now is the period during which you'd have had to have been sitting quietly, waiting to put your new property on the market.
And if you took it from a state-owned museum, well, then you'd have been waiting since 1975.
That's a long time to wait and worry if perhaps the police will break down your door any moment, sending you to prison for what will seem far longer.
Me, I'd rather sit here eating a Tootsie Roll Pop, innocent as a newborn lamb, and not worry about stuff like the police.
But hey, maybe that's just me.
Full disclosure: it's an orange one.
The mouse who never was
The Preble's meadow jumping mouse, once seen as a costly impediment to development, now turns out never to have existed.
The furry nine-inch-long creature (above), which can launch itself a foot and a half into the air and switch direction in mid-flight - sounds like a rodent version of Randy Moss - is genetically identical to the Bear Lodge meadow jumping moss.
DNA analysis seemed to prove the case but even so, the conclusion was only narrowly approved (8-6) in a vote by 14 peer reviewers from the Department of Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service, the Energy Department, the state of Wyoming, and the Denver museum.
Based on the study, the Preble's mouse will be removed from the government's endangered species list in about a year.
This will free up 31,000 acres along streams in Colorado and Wyoming that up to now have been designated as a critical mouse habitat and thus off-limits to development.
Speaking of things that never were, the 1956 film "The Man Who Never Was,"
about the legendary British World War II Operation Mincemeat, is superb.
Today a Leaf - by Gerald Stern
Today it was just a dry leaf that told me
I should live for love.
It wasn't the six birds sitting like little angels
in the white birch tree,
or the knife I use to carve my pear with.
It was a leaf, that had read Tolstoi, and Krishnamurti,
that had loved William James,
and put sweet Jesus under him where he could be safe forever.
"The world is so bright," he said. "You should see the light."
"We are born without defenses, both babies and leaves."
"The branch is necessary, but it is in the way."
"I am not afraid. I am never afraid."
Then he stretched his imaginary body
this way and that.
He weighs half a gram, is brown and green,
with two large mold spots on one side, and a stem
that curls away, as if with a little pride,
and he could be easily swept up and forgotten,
but oh he taught me love for two good hours,
and helped me with starvation, and dread, and dancing.
As far as I'm concerned his grave is here
next to the telephone and the cupful of yellow pencils,
under the window, in the rich and lovely presence
of Franz Joseph Haydn and Domenico Scarlatti and Gustav Mahler
MorphWorld: Governor Mark Warner's teeth into those of Hilary Swank
When Warner's campaign for governor of Virginia began, I nicknamed him "Chiclets" because of his enormous, blindingly white front teeth.
Hilary Swank's got the same dentist, it would appear: yowza, but those choppers got bling.
Don't even need to add diamonds or rubies, what?
As I look at the two of them - wait a sec, I need to put on my sunglasses to cut down the glare - it occurs to me that it's not just their teeth that look alike.
They could well be brother and sister.
Maybe they are.
Why Kerry Lost - by Errol Morris
The great filmmaker and director is as good with words as he is with celluloid.
He wrote a clear, logical, telling Op-Ed piece for the January 18 New York Times in which he mused out loud why it was that the then-imminent Presidential inauguration would not feature the swearing in of John Kerry as the 44th President of the United States of America.
In a nutshell, Morris believes that it was a failure in clarity on Kerry's part.
Not moral clarity, but rather, something far simpler and yet, apparently, not so simple after all.
The ability to appear politically authentic means that all parts of person need to be put out in front of the public - a bumbler who bumbles is preferable to a smart person who seems confused even if, in the end, the smart person achieves better results.
So with the election just past.
The next Democratic candidate would do well to have a storyteller like Morris in her - or his - inner circle in 2008.
Here's the Times piece.
- Where's the Rest of Him?
So why is George W. Bush taking the oath of office this week and not John Kerry?
For me, the answer is clear: Kerry failed because of his inability to tell his own story.
John Kerry could have presented to the American people his full biography, but instead he chose to edit who he was.
My guess is that Kerry and his campaign believed that certain things could not be mentioned.
Foremost among these was Kerry's opposition to the war in Vietnam, which was largely erased from the candidate's life.
That was a mistake.
People think in narratives - in beginnings, middles and ends.
The danger when you edit something too severely is that it no longer makes sense; worse still, it leaves people with the disquieting impression that something is being hidden.
Muting Kerry's opposition to the Vietnam War had precisely this effect.
Remember, this is the man who in 1971 made the following statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:
"Each day to facilitate the process by which the United States washes her hands of Vietnam someone has to give up his life so that the United States doesn't have to admit something that the entire world already knows, so that we can't say that we have made a mistake. ... We are asking Americans to think about that, because how do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"
Last year at the Democratic Convention in Boston, the Vietnam War was transformed into a strange version of World War II.
Gone was the moral ambiguity, the complexity.
Instead, Vietnam veterans appeared with Kerry as "a band of brothers," testifying to his heroism in battle.
Could Kerry's campaign advisers have forgotten about his role as a leader of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War?
Could they have forgotten about his Senate testimony?
Did they expect others to forget – particularly longtime anti-Kerry veterans like John E. O'Neill?
If so, they were gravely mistaken, and their reticence on the subject merely made Kerry vulnerable to attack.
To me, John Kerry's heroism encompassed both his actions in combat and his willingness to change his mind and stand up for what he thought was right.
He realized that soldiers and civilians were dying in a war that wasn't accomplishing its objectives.
Yet he never tied this crucial piece of his biography into his campaign for the presidency.
And in failing to do so, he left a blank space in his personal story – a blank space that made it possible for the criticisms of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth to be alarmingly effective.
By implying that his real heroism was fighting in Vietnam, Kerry also left himself open to the charge that he was somehow inauthentic.
Americans have a complicated relationship with their military heroes: we expect them not to talk about their heroism.
War heroes, in real life and in the movies, rarely speak about their courage in battle.
Nor did Kennedy, Bob Dole, or the president's father.
And then there was the president.
Though George W. Bush's military record was arguably less impressive than his opponent's, the Republicans never misrepresented who he was.
Bush never pretended to be a war hero.
He never pretended to be anything but a ne'er-do-well who turned his life around when he became a born-again Christian.
His life story made sense; it was recognizable and easy to understand. There was no point in attacking him about his war record (or lack of one): He had already conceded the point.
He had never claimed to be a hero.
John Kerry had.
Bush portrayed himself as a controversial but candid incumbent.
In accepting his party's nomination, he said: "In the last four years, you and I have come to know each other. Even when we don't agree, at least you know what I believe and where I stand."
This was the cornerstone of his approach.
And it worked.
People grasped who he was, even when they disagreed with his policies
After the 2004 conventions, a New York Times poll asked people whether they felt that the candidates were not being candid about their war records.
Many of Kerry's supporters were mystified that almost as large a percentage of Americans felt that he was holding something back as felt that Bush was doing the same.
But the polls made perfect sense.
Kerry was holding something back – his real story about Vietnam.
And in the end the questions about his service in Vietnam became questions about how he would deal with the war in Iraq.
Was Kerry for it or against it?
Questions about Iraq became questions about his candor, and vice versa.
What's disconcerting here is that Kerry had an out.
He could have explained why he went to Vietnam and then opposed the war, and then he could have used this explanation to help people understand why he voted for the Iraq war and then voted against it.
His experience with the changing nature of a war could have shifted those critical swing voters, convincing them that he was just the person to lead them at this juncture in our history.
Many people believe that Kerry is not preparing for his inaugural this week because he wasn't conservative enough, because the Democrats were outwitted by Karl Rove, because of gay marriage, because of the Christian evangelicals who supposedly came out of the woodwork on Election Day.
But these people miss the point.
John Kerry lost because he concealed something that was completely honorable, even heroic: his opposition to Vietnam.
George W. Bush told the truth about something that, to my mind, was not honorable: He supported that war but found a way to stay home.
Kerry was forthright about almost everything except himself – and in this election that was not enough.
Merrell 'Primo Chill'
I purchased a pair of these women's slip-ons for a friend this past Christmas.
After they were featured in the New York Times, suddenly you couldn't find them anywhere.
Lucky for me, I have my crack research team to go where no one else would dream of going, and they found a pair for me in just the right size and color.
Verdict/wearer feedback: "the best present I got this Christmas."
And this girl gets lots of presents - if you get my drift.
She was wearing them today when I saw her - she's a blood-on-the-lips litigator and she was at work.
Yes, at a little after 8 a.m. on an icy-cold Saturday morning in Charlottesville.
Some people are deadly serious about what they do. But I digress.
The shoes are beautifully designed and very nice to look at.
She said the sheepskin lining and fleece footbed make them so comfortable, she doesn't take them off except to work out or go to court or bed.
Pretty good recommendation.
I'm giving these a bookofjoe Design Award.
$94 here, in natural or tan, but I'd go for the natural (above).
You can also find them at Nordstrom in black for $89.95, if you're still in your Yohji Yamamoto phase.
Really - by now I thought you'd be over it.