Sunday, October 19, 2014

10 Years of the Magic Lantern!

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls: This blog has existed for 10 years. It was born on Wall Street (pretty much literally: I was working at 40 Wall Street and was bored at work so started this blog)...continued on when I moved over to the World Financial Center (from which my cube overlooked Ground Zero), and from there kept going when I moved to London for 4 years and watched the financial world collapse from with inside it, and then returned with me back to the US.

Of my antics and adventures there have been plenty, including learning to snowboard in Vermont, Austria, Switzerland, France and Italy...learning guitar, dealing with Bureautron and travelling to China (where I took a 3 day cruise down the Yangtse river, amongst other things), Egypt, Belgium, Morocco...And of course, doing stuff with UMOUR and all manner of characters. David Bowie even laughed at one of my jokes outside Union Square.

Here're some video highlights from over the years:

The view out my cube from 2005 or so to 2006...
Here's that walk down the backstreets of Guilin China, on a steamy August Sunday night:

And here are the horses in St John's Wood, London:

Here's a video the UMOUR gang put together one New Year's Eve. With the spontaneously created music, this took just an hour or two to complete:

And don't forget our more professional video done with real no-playin' director Doug Morse and actress and TV show host Camilla Ford:

Oh yeah, and let's not forget all the great stuff done over at Dangerous Minds.
Been quite a ten years, and indications are that the next year will be very interesting.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Fake Pigeon Lady

Remember last week when I mentioned the Fake Pigeon Lady? See? I told you she was real, and here she is with a flock of motionless felt pigeons, though near the fake pigeon lady proper in the photo I believe you can see some actual living pigeons.
And here are some fake pigeons eating a fake slice of pizza a fake someone threw away:

Monday, October 13, 2014

Japanese Dijeridoo

And on my way back to Queens from the upper west side, this dude was setting up at 59th street:

In town

After brunch at the Spotted Pig I had to head up town so I walked the full length of the High Line for the first time (the northernmost section just opened a few weeks ago). Like the older sections, the new section is excellent, though lacking bathrooms.
Here's an art-freezer full of undrinkable drinks...
Here's a closeup....

Here's some folks viewing NYC...
That switched below worked, by the way, and I switched it a couple of times...

This kid crawled up into that lookout-thing from a nearby kids area..,


Sunday, October 12, 2014


Yesterday in Washington Square Park I was looking for the lady with the fake pigeons that she makes out of felt and then displays in large groups on the ground. But, perhaps because of the rain earlier in the day, she didn't show. Walking over to the Northeast corner  a black man nodded my way and said something like, "Hey, my friend! Hey!" I saw another guy angling in and immediately knew what the deal was: This has been a tradition in that corner of Washington Square Park for decades. So I replied, "I'm alright! I'm alright!" Basically, pot-smoker talk for "I have pot and don't need any right now." I actually felt good being able to navigate a social context that for some would be a little scary. I'm not a smoker now but was for a time in the early 1980s. So I knew the drill. I also pretended to be interested in dealer Mike's pitch, promising home-delivery if I called a certain number. I guess with my guitar they just assumed I myself was not a cop, but I did ask Mike if he was one and he denied it with a small measure of believable disgust. This too, made me feel strangely good, playing the role of believable potential future pot-buyer and having a dealer deny he was a cop. But I figured this was the least confrontational way to get these guys to basically lose interest in me, and I was right.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Last Gasp Books!

The greatest book publishers in the world have apparently hit hard times, so do check out their Kickstarter and pledge a few bucks. The bling is high-quality and some of it is pretty unique. Don't screw around, or they'll be knocked out of the box and our planet will suck more as a result.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Embracing Marina Abramovic


Not long ago  (a couple of hours) I shared an extended embrace with Marina Abramovic. I did not expect it to be a profound experience, but it was.
How did this happen, you might ask. Some time earlier this year I donated some money via Kickstarter to the Marina Abramovic Institute: She is basically creating a place in Westchester where her techniques will be taught to a new generation. It seemed like a worthy cause. You got some video access and other odds-and-ends if you donated, but I never actually availed myself of any of them. Indeed, I don't even remember how much I donated.
But a month or two ago there was an invitation to the "Embrace" event, whereby you would share an embrace with Marina Abromovic if you were a "founder" at the Kickstarter Headquarters in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. And since I knew I would be on my way back from practice with the New York Guitar Circle, I replied and said I'd like to go.
So I went.
Unlike her extended thing at the MOMA ("The Artist is Present"), there were perhaps 10 people ahead of me on line when I arrived, and I don't think I waited any longer than 15 minutes or so.

As my turn approached I was actually nervous and a stray thought that flashed through my head was that I could perhaps leave before the encounter: There was a set of stairs just to the left up to a door to the street. For us males embracing a female is...complex: We're taught that breasts are potentially erogenous zones, so a hug or an embrace must be undertaken carefully.  But as I walked up to her a lot of that was just forgotten and I accepted and tried to offer an embrace. She felt me not fully just "embrace" her and told me something like "no, just" and then I just full-fledged hugged her. I could feel her stomach breathing against mine and allowed my own breath to be timed with hers. In that moment too I forgot I was hugging the internationally famous superstar artist but now I was hugging another human being who was hugging me back. It was a physical experience that perhaps occurred below the level of the emotional. It was "profound" in its simplicity and shared humanity that is so very easy to overlook now.

As we pulled apart she thanked me and I thanked her and, nodding towards all the young folks who were waiting on the line I said, "You're embracing the future!" and she replied, "I hope so!".

On the way out the girl, uh, "manning" the door out told us that there'd be a post-event gathering nearby, but when I arrived there were a few others milling about trying to find where the event was. After some queries, it was apparent that there was no event there, so we walked back to where "The Embrace" was occurring and told the folks working there that there was nothing going on. After apologizing (and communicating with each other), they told us about another place nearby we could perhaps hang out in, so we walked over to Greenpoint Avenue, where I ended up talking to a lesbian couple from Chicago for a couple of hours. We had a profound chat on a variety of subjects and really connected. It was cool and beautiful.

Here's a clip of Marina Abramovic at MOMA, duing the moment she encounters her former performance artist partner and lover, Ulay:

Well, the Marina Abramovic folks sent out a link to the "Embrace" event, and after looking through large portions of it found myself. It's odd seeing that, and what's even odder still is how the video of the image doesn't seem to capture my subject experience of the encounter or how I remember it going. BUT, some of my subjective experience IS captured too. It's interesting now to think about whether the video of my experience does or does not impact what I felt was a fairly profound and beautiful moment. Does that change anything in terms of how I should feel about it? Probably not, but I am thinking about that.

Daniel Lanois, Flesh and Machine

Even though Daniel Lanois' output has been sporadic and somewhat uneven, I'm still stoked to hear about any new music he's got coming out, because his best (The Beauty of Wynona) is absolutely outstanding. His new album, Flesh and Machine, is due out towards the end of October, so I'm looking forward to it.

(And do, by the way, try to watch the video all the way gets strange in a pretty subtle way.)

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Corporate coffee pot

Here's the sign on the coffee machine telling us we no longer need to double up on the packs. Meanwhile, they've gone back to the skimpier packs so we've started doubling up again.

Friday, September 26, 2014

NY Art Book Fair...observations, etc...

I think this is my third New York Art Book Fair, though it may be my 4th. Not sure. But one trend I'm pretty sure isn't just in my imagination is the continued proliferation of small and obscure presses. A few years ago, you'd see tons of larger presses hawking their bigass art books about Dali, Magritte and Michelangelo. But those seem to be gone, with the possible exception of Phaidon. Instead, what we have are tons and tons of smaller presses from throughout the world. I saw tons of beautiful and obscure things, books that were themselves for their makers a form art. And there was tons of stuff from the last 4 or so decades that originated from very fringe areas of culture. Sex (gay, straight and other) was by no means taboo, nor was pretty much anything else you can think of. It's almost as if making a book about some far alternative area gives the maker plausible deniability about being part of the culture depicted in the book. But here, at the Art Book Fair, that cover wasn't needed.

If you are in New York or anywhere near it, you owe it to yourself to go. It's really wonderful and despite the fact that I was pretty strict with myself in terms of buying stuff, I still had a great time and saw books and other items I will never see again in my lifetime, not even at next year's New York Art Book Fair.


Interference Archive

These dudes from Interference Archive reprinted progressive and leftwing posters from over the ages as well a brand new ones. They're down in Gowanus Brooklyn and you can apparently just drop in and check 'em out.

2nd Floor

TBW Books

These TBW books were so beautiful that I was tempted to buy up a whole batch of them, despite not being familiar with the authors or artists or photographers, but someone ELECTROSHOCKED me (see below) so I backed away from the table... 

Fukt Magazine

These ladies and their  periodical (FUKT Magazine) were from Berlin. I picked up their latest issue and it is beautiful both outside and inside. FUKT is devoted to drawing, through pencil, pens, crayons, yarn or whatever else, and there are some really astounding works visible here.

Actually, when you think about it, despite the fact that probably more humans draw in some form or another (including doodling, etc...) Drawing as a fine art is relatively obscure. You don't see a lot of drawing in gallery shows, for instance, and the big bucks still seem to go primarily to canvas painting. So FUKT is a pretty unique venue for a highly developed artform that gets only miniscule exposure and the issue I have (#13) is fantastic.

Artist Book bending machine

Queer Nerds

Christopher Kardamnikis

This book on alien sex was actually quite nice inside. Authors and artists describing what they think alien sex would be like. I expected to open the book ("Strange Attractors") and have something unbelievably bizarre come roaring out at me, but there was actually a lot of text and lots of interesting faux-scientific pieces. Had I just moved into a new house and had plenty of room for books, I would have purchased one of these. His other stuff was nice too.
And the dude was Greek, not Lithuanian: I asked.

Perish Publishing

Social Malpractice


Rumore Nero

This dude's from Italy

This is a whole big tent, depicted above, consisting of really super-small presses and folks who print or hand-make stuff in their homes. There's lots of really far out stuff here and, for the most part, the people at the tables were the people who made the books and 'zines. If you come you definitely need to check this out: Buy stuff, and if you don't like it just throw it out later. But at least you'll give these folks a couple of bucks to keep them going for a little while longer.

New York Artbook Fair: Liveblog!

Ah yes: Once again it’s time for the New York Art Book Fair in PS1, Long Island City (which is the westmost-part of Queens, right across the East River, in case you didn’t know). I’ll be live blogging, kinda, over the next hour or so BUT I can’t buy any more books: I don’t have room.
To that end, I have wired myself with an electrical shock system. If you see me about to buy a wonderful art book, please send me a shock via clicking on the box below:

Sunday, September 21, 2014

End of the line

Video from the march

May Day 1971

I was, of course, a child. But on that day my brothers and I went with our mother to Riverside Park, down by the famous Little Red Lighthouse under the George Washington Bridge. In my memory it sometimes looks like a movie about those days: Hippies were painting and singing, wearing tie-dye and there was a general groovy tone. One hippie gave me a big fat paint brush and told me to paint something on a big rock, but my mother said no: She thought it was against the whole point of the day to paint the rocks, but she was OK with us painting on the walkway, so that's what we did. I don't remember what I painted: Maybe a Yellow Submarine (I liked drawing those), or maybe a rainbow or something.

The hippies gave out a lot of stuff too, and one hippie gave me what appeared to be a hardboiled egg, which I brought home. Later that day, or maybe it was the next day, something horrible happened: The egg broke open and inside was a dead chic, it's dead eye closed. At the time we didn't understand it, and thought it was just a mistake of some sort. But years later I realized that that hippie thought he was handing me the future, and that a baby chic would bust out of that egg to symbolize life and everything else. He probably imagined that that's what happened.

And it did, of course, in a way symbolize the future: The hippie's world was not sustainable; It was a self-contained egg of culture and beliefs that should have hatched but never really did. My generation, the punk generation, looked back on a lot of that hippie stuff as nice enough but just not real and in denial of all the darkness were would have to work through.

But now, perhaps, today, there's the stirring of a new world after all. This stirring, perhaps, can stay alive because it includes a broad enough spectrum of peoples to be realistic about what it will take to change course. And we need, of course, to change course.
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