« September 18, 2006 | Main | September 20, 2006 »

September 19, 2006

PERFORMANCE (career ender) — by Claude Wampler


It's going to be performed at The Kitchen in New York City from November 16 to 18 of this year.

Gia Kourlas's September 10 New York Times story introduced me to Claude Wampler, the work's creator.

Up top is her "Stable (Stupidity Project Part 10)," seen at P.S. 122 in 2003.

The article follows.

    'Maybe Some Spontaneity Can Happen'

    Visual artists who create performance works are nothing new, but Claude Wampler, a tiny woman with austere artistic intent, is a wonder. Ms. Wampler, who has a history of manipulating the line between audience and performer, presents her newest production, “PERFORMANCE (career ender)” at the Kitchen Nov. 16 to 18. As usual it is full of secrets. The culmination of several years of experiments, the production, as she recently explained, will “merge a kind of visual-arts experience into a performance context, or vice versa.”

    Much of Ms. Wampler’s performance work is about the perception of power and how swiftly it can change hands. For “Bucket,” presented at Performance Space 122 in 1999, she hired attractive people to walk out in a huff during the show to test the real audience’s commitment. For “Stable (Stupidity Project Part 10),” seen at P.S. 122 in 2003, Ms. Wampler seated the audience before a ring of Rottweilers wearing western outfits as a topless cowgirl gyrated next to the sound booth.

    As the minutes ticked by, the dogs — huge, gentle and ridiculous — stared at us. We stared back. (Who was more stupid?) As the audience reached the breaking point of fatigue and frustration, a screen was revealed onstage: Ms. Wampler had been secretly videotaping the crowd, turning the audience into performers.

    “I’m trying to remind the audience of their part in a performance, so that there’s a moment of instability, and then maybe some spontaneity can happen,” she said in a recent telephone interview. “But I’m not taking advantage of the audience or using it as my material. It’s morally for them. When I’m watching dance or theater pieces, I’m praying that someone will do that for me.”

    It seemed odd that Ms. Wampler — a brave, independent and transgressive force in both the performance and the art worlds — was excluded from last year’s Performa, a biennial of visual art performance in New York. But for her, the very word “performance,” purposely crossed out in her work’s title, is both used up and a little vague. “This could be my last work, and I don’t even mean in the theater, but forever,” she said. “That’s the way I have to think about it. I’m suspending my own disbelief and saying, ‘If I had to make a final piece, what would it be?’ That’s the career-ender.”


Tell you what: if there's an individual with a better knack for titles than Ms. Wampler I've yet to encounter her.

September 19, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

World's Cheapest Heavy-Duty Giant Duffel Bag


It's not intended to be a piece of luggage but heck, why not step outside the intended patio furniture cushion storage space?

From the website:

    Cushion Storage Bag

    Cover and protect your outdoor furniture cushions from the elements with this three-way weather-resistant bag.

    Durable PVC bag protects and preserves outdoor furniture cushions from summer’s heat and winter’s bitter cold (down to -22°F) so it looks great all year long.

    The cover is both tear- and puncture-resistant and has a generous drop to help keep out moisture and debris.

    Holds 2 chaise or a number of chair cushions.

    48"L x 16"W x 22"H.


Green or Khaki.


September 19, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

GlamCentral will be 'The YouTube of the fashion world'

So said Samir Arora, CEO of Glam Media, which yesterday launched GlamCentral, "a new fashion blog-ranking system."

Rachel Dodes wrote about the new website in her story in yesterday's Wall Street Journal.

There was good news and bad news in the article, which described the rise of bloggers to the point they're now getting invited to shows at Fashion Week in New York City.

The good news, of course, is that it involves fashion, one of my passions.

The bad news?

Ad hoc guidelines for invitees include, as Rule No. 1: "Bloggers who post photos of themselves don't make the cut."

Oh, well.

I'll just have to rely on Edwina and her posse to sneak me in via the tradesmen's entrance.

Here's the article.

    Bloggers Get Under the Tent

    Fashion Once Dismissed Them As Snarky and Small-Time, But Now They're Getting Respect

    Pamela Pekerman, who blogs about handbags at www.bagtrends.com, had to sneak into the Bryant Park tents during New York fashion week in February. Unable to secure hot invitations, she had to settle for watching models strut down the catwalk on a large video monitor outside the shows, or, worse, on the Internet. If she was lucky, she got a standing-room-only ticket.

    This fall is another story. Ms. Pekerman is one of about 40 bloggers, up from just a handful a year ago, who scored official press passes from IMG, the company that runs fashion week. "It's an evolving category," says Fern Mallis, vice president of IMG Fashion.

    For Ms. Pekerman, the recognition led to invitations to more than 20 designers' shows, including one of her favorites, Badgley Mischka. "I was like, 'Wow that's phenomenal,"' the 22-year-old blogger recalls. "It's a sign that they respect your work."

    Once snubbed by the insular fashion world for their sometimes snarky reviews and tiny audiences, fashion bloggers are now attracting the attention of the fashion establishment. As blogs claim bigger followings, and advertisers shift more spending to them, designers see these independent Web publishers as a new marketing opportunity.

    Many small designers, in particular, now realize they can get valuable exposure on blogs that they might not get in mainstream media. This year, with 191 shows in New York, up 25% from five years ago, there aren't enough old-media critics to cover them all.

    "I would say we've become more selective," says Ed Nardoza, editor-in-chief of Women's Wear Daily, the industry trade newspaper.

    But determining who's who in the blogosphere is complicated. Technorati, the most commonly used blog-tracking site, relies on bloggers themselves to categorize -- or tag -- their blogs. The company says that method is more democratic than having a third-party decide how to classify them. But because fashion is so widely discussed, a search for fashion blogs will turn up many sites that have little to do with the subject, including the personal diaries of teenagers.

    Many public-relations firms that draw up guest lists for designers are doing their own research. Alison Brod, a New York publicist who represents designer Jill Stuart, now has an employee focusing exclusively on blogs, tracking their impact on sales, among other things.

    And today, a year-old company called Glam Media plans to launch a new fashion blog-ranking system called GlamCentral that will use criteria such as "most viewed," "most linked to" and "most commented on." Chief Executive Samir Arora says the new rankings will be useful to advertisers and fashion publicists, as well as Glam itself, which is looking to buy blogs.

    "This is going to be the YouTube of the fashion world," says Mr. Arora. Scheduled for release next quarter is a search feature that will enable users to look through fashion blogs to find a particular string of text.

    Public relations firm LaForce + Stevens, which organized shows for clients like Nanette Lepore and Baby Phat, drew up ad hoc guidelines for this week's invitees. Rule No. 1: Bloggers who post photos of themselves don't make the cut. "Self-promotion is a bad sign," says principal James LaForce.

    Under the rules, Lesley Scott of FashionTribes.com got a fourth-row seat at some shows, but shopology.com and a site called Coutorture were denied access, although neither site features blogger photos. "It's not that they are bad blogs, it's just a question of [audience] size," says Chris Constable, who makes the lists.

    Some fashion companies are concerned about what bloggers are likely to say about their shows. One blogger who has gained entrée into the tents this year is Mario Lavandeira, founder of the gleefully catty celebrity-watching site PerezHilton.com. Mr. Lavandeira's blog recently posted a photo of Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld in an all-white ensemble, with the caption "Unkle Karl and the case of the Male menopause." A spokeswoman for Chanel had no comment.

    According to BlogAds, an agency which sells ads on PerezHilton.com, the site is viewed, on average, 40 million times per month -- a figure that's hard to ignore. By comparison, an established site such as Style.com (owned by CondéNet, a joint venture of Condé Nast and Fairchild Publications), gets viewed 87 million times per month.

    An exclusive site-wide advertisement on PerezHilton.com now costs $25,000, up from $1,000 just a year ago. "People read me because I am not a cookie-cutter safe blog," says Mr. Lavandeira, who says he hasn't faced resistance from designers and has received about 50 invitations this year. "I don't mind pushing buttons and walking the fine controversial line."

    For designers, getting mentioned on a popular blog also can provide an ego boost. After a show, which lasts around 20 minutes and can cost more than $100,000, many go through "a type of post-partum depression," especially if fashion kingmakers like Vogue editor Anna Wintour don't show up, says Kelly Cutrone, founder of People's Revolution, which organized more than a dozen fashion shows this season. "Then they Google themselves," she says, and the more mentions they find of their show, the happier they get.

    Jay McCarroll, winner of Bravo's reality series Project Runway, invited two bloggers to his first fashion week show. "How could we not have bloggers there?" asks Nancy Kane of People's Revolution, which is organizing the show. The invitees, from a site called Blogging Project Runway, "write about Jay every time he scratches his nose," she says.

    Gen Art, a nonprofit organization that supports emerging designers, created a seating section for about a dozen bloggers at its "Fresh Faces in Fashion" runway show on Friday night. As a result, the show got mentioned on at least three blogs, according to Technorati. One invited blogger, Fashion Addict Diary, called the show "sophomoric and low budget" but also praised some of the looks on the runway.

    This year, bloggers' commentary will appear on some more traditional media sites. New York Magazine's Web site is featuring the work of the two women behind the often-critical celebrity fashion blog GoFugYourself.com. And Style.com has hired Scott Schuman, who authors man-on-the-street critiques on thesartorialist.com, to write about attendees' attire in New York and at upcoming shows in Paris and Milan. Mr. Schuman, a stay-at-home dad who used to work for the fashion house Valentino, says he knew his blog was a commercial success when he generated enough income from it to hire a nanny. Even eBay Inc.'s style director, Constance White, will blog from the tents for the Internet auction site.

    Fashion blogging's coming of age is happening as U.S. online advertising revenue, a small percentage of which goes to blogs, topped $10 billion last year, and is expected to grow 22% annually, to reach $27.3 billion in 2010, according to Kelsey Group, a consulting firm.

    BlogAds, which places ads on 1,300 blogs, 150 of which are fashion related, says that in the past six months it has inked deals with big fashion companies like Hennes & Mauritz AB's H&M and Gap Inc.

    Zappos.com, an online footwear retailer, now advertises on Manolo's Shoe Blog, a widely followed site whose anonymous writer, known for his quirky humor and syntax, says he will be an invited guest at this week's fashion shows. Online fashion retailer Bluefly.com now spends about 20% of its Internet ad budget on blogs like PerezHilton.com and other gossipy sites. Johnson & Johnson, meanwhile, started sending samples of skin-care products like Aveeno, RoC and Purpose to bloggers three months ago, in hopes of getting positive coverage.

    "These are citizen-journalists, and are not that different from people who sit on the masthead at Allure," says Monica Neufang, the company's director of public relations for skin care.

September 19, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Red Sand Hourglass


Why is the sand always white?

No real reason.

From the website:

    Hour Glasses

    Sands of a new time

    Modern handblown chem lab beaker glass tracks an exact hour in a choice of red [above] or brown [below] sand.

    • Handblown borosilicate ("beaker") glass

    • Contemporary take on the classic timer

    • Colored sand times one hour

    • Use mild glass cleaner

    • 12"H x 4.75"dia.




September 19, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Memo-Pad Hand of Alexander Herchcovitch


See it there, just above his watch?

It's a lined page tattooed right where it's most convenient.

No more looking for something to write on.

Guy Trebay's September 12 New York Times story mentioned it in passing; I found it most thought-provoking, almost a throwback response to those who would have us install input jacks in our heads.

Trebay wrote, "There, in faint ink letters, the remains of a Memo to Self were scrawled across a lined page permanently marked on his skin. 'I had it done because I always forget something, and this way I don't,' Mr. Herchcovitch said."

Herchcovitch is a Russian designer from Brazil who happened to be showing his collection during Olympus Fashion Week in New York when Trebay happened by.

September 19, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Business Bib — 'If you wanted sleeves, you should have bought a suit'


That's what it says on the Business Bib website.

Anna Schneider-Mayers, in an item in the Men's Fashion Supplement to the September 17 New York Times magazine, wrote:

    Boxer-wearing telecommuters can now meet a company dress code in the blink of their Webcam’s eye. The BusinessBib — an all-in-one jacket, shirt and tie with a Velcro fastening at the back — takes you from slob to suit in seconds, providing necessary coverage for above-the-shoulders videoconferencing. Those perplexed by the bib’s Muppet-worthy proportions should consult the accompanying admonition: “If you wanted sleeves, you should have bought a suit.”


Your choice of 18 styles: $135-$150.

September 19, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band in Concert — Free


I happened on this tidbit about a third of the way through a September 5, 2005 Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article about Goodwin's band, "without a doubt the cleanest, sharpest, most disciplined [jazz] band going today."

The group performed at New Trier High School in Evanston, Illinois in February of 2005, part of the school's annual Jazz Festival.

Buried deep — really, really deep, so deep it challenged even my crack research team™ — in the Jazz Festival website is a link to a page with the archives of that year's performances.

And right there is a link for you to click on: "Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band — See their perfomance."

It's the full show, 73 minutes long.

McDonough wrote, in his WSJ story, "At New Trier the band burst into action with a piece called 'High Maintenance.' The kids in the audience jumped to their feet, and the brass hammered out a shattering sequence of jabs that sent eyes popping and jaws dropping."

Here's the entire article.

    His Jazz Band Is a Big Phat Hit On the High-School Circuit

    When bandleader, pianist and saxophonist Gordon Goodwin was in high school and college in the 1970s, his role models were Buddy Rich, Count Basie and Woody Herman. Today he has become precisely that sort of role model for the kind of kid he once was. One big difference, though: The big-band sound has grown even more remote from mass culture. But in the unlikely event that big-band jazz ever makes a comeback, count on two things: It won't sound like Glenn Miller. And there will be a vast army of young players to man the horns.

    Nowadays, the big-band action is not in the ballrooms, but in the classrooms. About 15,000 big-band jazz ensembles are up and playing in American high schools and colleges, according to Bill McFarlin, executive director of the International Association for Jazz Education. This is where you'll see teens standing up and wildly cheering a full sax and brass section arrayed on risers behind music stands.

    That was the scene I saw not too long ago in Winnetka, Ill., at the annual New Trier High School Jazz Festival. The object of the adoration was Mr. Goodwin's Big Phat Band, a crack crew of seasoned Los Angeles musicians who have honed their skills in the studios and are now one of the more unexpected successes on the high-school and college clinic circuit. This summer the band put out its third CD, "The Phat Pack," on Immergent Records.


    Jim Warrick, director of the New Trier jazz program, called Big Phat "without a doubt the cleanest, sharpest, most disciplined big band going today." And Mr. Goodwin and his men earned those adjectives with a combination of athletic precision and aesthetic purpose. At New Trier the band burst into action with a piece called "High Maintenance." The kids in the audience jumped to their feet, and the brass hammered out a shattering sequence of jabs that sent eyes popping and jaws dropping. Every eight bars the rhythm section jerked to a stop and the saxes or brass squeezed out a primal glissando that soared into a steep, slicing shriek. Each break cued ecstatic cheers from the crowd. For the next 75 minutes the energy hardly let up. (You can see the entire concert for free on the school's Web site — www.ntjazz.com)

    The education market has been a refuge for many famous bandleaders and musicians since academic jazz programs began gaining traction in the '50s and '60s. High-school and university jazz clinics not only helped keep veterans such as Stan Kenton and Woody Herman on the road in their last years but became a fount of fresh and eager talent that kept bands remarkably contemporary. You might think that the Big Phat Band was tailored with just that audience in mind. But you would be wrong.

    "We had no business plan," Mr. Goodwin said in a recent telephone interview. "Our audience was ourselves. That's all. We had no intention of doing live gigs."

    Besides, he saw little chance of getting them. This is not a band that plays "In the Mood." The book is high-powered and eclectic -- everything from a jazz treatment of "Bach 2 Part Invention in D Minor" to "Hunting Wabbits," a staccato fugue inspired by the Warner Bros. cartoon scores of Carl Stalling. But when the band's first CD, "Swingin' for the Fences," drew two Grammy nominations in 2001, concert offers were not far behind.

    One was from Cal State at Northridge, his alma mater, where Mr. Goodwin earned his first professional credential while still a senior. John De Bello, his roommate's older brother, was directing a film and asked Mr. Goodwin if he'd write the music for it. The movie was 1978's "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes." "I had no idea what I was doing," Mr. Goodwin concedes. "Fortunately the music was not the worst thing about that movie." But it launched a career that soon put him on the A-list of L.A. studio musicians and arrangers. That's how he would meet many of the players who now make up his band.

    "I didn't know if we'd get through the first gig we did," Mr. Goodwin recalls. "For a studio player, performance is a series of sprints where you concentrate on nailing one short cue exactly right. Going on stage and playing difficult material for 90 minutes that people are reacting to is quite a different thing."

    It soon became clear that the Big Phat Band was on to something with young audiences who loved its energy and bravado. "As we saw the phenomenon begin to unfold," Mr. Goodwin says, "we began to think what we could do to maximize this thing we have. This is our core audience." It was then that the Big Phat Band formulated a plan. Mr. Goodwin reached out to jazz educators and made sure that the band's music was published and available to band directors. He broke new marketing ground for a big band by targeting kids directly through Myspace.com. A second CD came in 2003 along with T-shirts and posters. The Big Phat Band's reputation began to spread from its base.

    "The first time I heard about the band," says Mr. Warrick, director of the New Trier jazz program, "it was from my students, which tells you something. Since then, the rise in awareness has been meteoric. I've seen kids lined up in 20-minute lines to get an autograph. [Mr. Goodwin] has rock star status with high-school jazz kids."

    The band manages one or two performances a month, in part because its personnel is largely a closed shop of veteran pros. If, say, trombonist Andy Martin gets a call for the Oscar telecast or percussionist Louis Conte is on tour with James Taylor, the band's payroll must stretch to compete with the opportunities his musicians are offered. But the camaraderie pays off. One New Trier student later said that he loved watching how the musicians relate to one another. "That's great," says Mr. Goodwin. "I like to hear that people are picking up on that. But even though we are having a good time, we're deadly serious about it."


    As for the future of big-band jazz, Mr. Goodwin takes a "build it and they will come" view — since he launched the Big Phat Band, he says, people have been coming. Pixar heard the band, decided it wanted a big-band sound for "The Incredibles," and came to him for arrangements. Last February, one of his charts — "The Incredits" — won a Grammy Award. He recently completed work on Warner Bros.' "Bah Humduck," a Looney Tunes version of "A Christmas Carol." "They called because they heard the Big Phat Band," he says. "They wanted big-band jazz in this picture."

    It's important to find "the one guy who loves big bands and is powerful enough to make something happen," Mr. Goodwin says. "It may be a TV producer, or someone at Starbucks or Coca-Cola. But find that connection." He says that back in the 1989 Steven Spielberg, in exchange for allowing his name to be put on the original "Tiny Toon Adventures" TV series as executive producer, insisted that each episode be scored with a live orchestra. "That edict led to 10 years [of shows and spin-offs] in which young people were exposed to a big-band sound on a daily basis," he notes. Now Mr. Goodwin is doing his part to help such bands play on.

September 19, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

World's First Trail Running Shoe With Stainless Steel Shoelaces


It's the North Face Endurus XCR BOA.

It's got a zillion other ultra-technical features (illustrated below).


Read a review here.




September 19, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

« September 18, 2006 | Main | September 20, 2006 »