Archive for July, 2012

Lazy

July 31, 2012

No bones about it –– I’ve been lazy recently.  Luckily my job provides me with lots of free entertainment in the form of book proposals put together by crazy, egomaniacal, or genius people.  The below author is obviously a combination of the three.  (He’s a contributor to “over a dozen” Chicken Soup for the Soul books.)

*Note: I’m definitely breaking at least a moral code, if not a law, by posting this.  I’m too lazy to even apologize.

 

Dear Editor,

Rap/hip hop is one of the most misunderstood forms of music in the world. Some believe it doesn’t require any musical technique, theory or talent. Others find the lyrics offensive. But hip hop artists sing about life on the streets, in sometimes impoverished, problematic areas. Because rap comes largely from a culture that has a lot of problems, people tend to think that the music is the cause of these problems rather than an observation of them. Unfortunately, there are rap fans and reactionary journalists who still believe this as well.

That’s why the best age for children to learn about rap/hip hop music is when they’re young and able to form their own opinions. Meet Kurtis Croak, a hip hop frog who isn’t into throwing down gang signs or ganking another toad’s log. Kurtis and his friend, Master Toad, hope to tutor a young frog named Lil’ Wog in the true culture of hip hop. First, though, they must convince the other frogs in the bog that the music is both respectable and inspirational.

Kurtis Croak is a picture book that will find a place in the hearts of young children, and help them understand and appreciate the music of cultures other than their own.

Kurtis Croak

The Hip Hop Frog

Warning: This story bangs real hard.

 

Once there was a frog who lived in a bog,

his name was Kurtis Croak.

He wore a do-rag wrapped around his head

and his jeans were slung real low.

 

Kurtis had a rapper friend

known as Master Toad.

Fistfuls of bling hung on his neck,

‘cause that was how he rolled.

 

The two would chill for hours a day,

catching mayflies on a stump.

They’d discuss the old school rappers

Like Frogface, Sticky Tongue and M.C. Jump.

Of course I won’t include the whole rap here.  You’ll have to bribe me to get it!

 

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Answer

July 26, 2012

A reader saw the picture of “Mecca” I posted on a few days ago (maybe?) and emailed me with this question:

I’ve been trying to find out that too, I thought it might have been the US or Northen Africa, judging by the colour … maybe Jordan? No idea, I’m just guessing. I would love to know more about it’s construction too. The Kaaba [shrine] looks concrete but the rest is kinda cardboardish. If you do manage to find more information please drop me a line!

My brother, who sent me the picture originally (via VVORK), contacted the artist and got a quick and thorough response.  The artist is French, so I’m editing for clarity/grammar.  See below:

 

Dear IS,

Thank you so much for your email.

The image you saw on VVORK website is a photo that I shot in Ouarzazate ( Morocco).

This installation is a cinema set abandonned in the desert after the shooting of the movie :

Journey to Mecca, in the footsteps of Ibn Battuta.

The movie has been directed by Bruce Neibaur in 2009.

I’m very interested in relation that Muslim people have with this holy object.

I don’t really have a statement for this particular work but it refers to aspect of my work.

I’m interested by surfaces and what is hidden behind the surface.

In the case of the Kaaba, there is like a mystery. It’s a black box, almost empty.

I grew up in two cultures. I navigated an Arab culture in the private sphere and a Western culture in the public realm. This particular kind of double consciousness, common to those who’ve migrated to culturally different societies, has provided me with a regard defined by the superimposition of two distinct cultural filters. When I look at Tony Smith’s black cube, for example, it is difficult for me not to think of the Kaaba.

My video work “The Message”, 2010 is exemplary of this perspective. I used a cult film from the 1970s which recounts the birth of Islam. Two identical versions of the film were made simultaneously: one with Arab actors, the other with American stars. I combined these two versions to create a single film wherein Arab and American actors relate with perfect mutual understanding despite speaking their respective language.

My parents have lived in France for over 30 years, yet they are continually looking toward the Arab world. Their satellite dish, like their bodies in prayer, points eastward. My photographic series “Musallat”, 2010 shows places of Muslim prayer in Montreal, Canada. This work is an exercise in the metaphysics of photography: the camera obscura is directed toward the source of light (the East) just as the faithful orient themselves towards Mecca. While looking at the photograph the spectator also looks in the direction of this sacred site. The tropism reflected in these images attests to my geographic and psychological position in the world both as an individual and as an artist.

An abandoned film set!  How very Fellini.  Now, on to find The Message!  

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

July 24, 2012

TERROR!

I was walking through SoHo early this morning, still kind of fuzzy from sleep, and I looked into the window of the Louis Vuitton store and YAYOI KUSAMA WAS FUCKING STANDING THERE STARING AT ME!

Of course then I realized it was a statue, but still, for a second, I thought I had met my demise, and it was in the shape of a short, plump little Japanese wacko.

Tonight I will not sleep well.

Me, Wishing I Were Eddie Pepitone

July 24, 2012

1. Launch Kickstarter fund to help me raise money buy frum clothing so I can blend in in Borough Park

2. Write essay on origins of pedophilia using Lolita and Soula Coaster: The Diary of Me by R. Kelly as example texts

3. Get friend to explain to me why the charity event for the National Eating Disorders Association is a walk-a-thon rather than a conserve-energy-and-eat-a-sensible-snack-a-thon

Cleaning Off My Desktop

July 23, 2012

I’ve been trying to figure out where this installation by Faycal Baghriche is, to no avail.

FANCY REHAB

July 19, 2012

 

Some of you may know that if I am against one thing I am vehemently, it’s fancy rehab.  See below, by Sean Michaels in The Guardian, for starters:

Pete Doherty has been thrown out of rehab, just halfway into his treatment at a clinic in Thailand. The singer’s departure was provoked by his disruptive behaviour toward other patients at the Cabin, in Chiang Mai.

“We are of course disappointed to see [Pete] leave,” wrote the Cabin’s director, Alastair Mordey. “It is important to maintain the integrity of the treatment programme for the other clients to have a good chance of recovery. Pete understands this and therefore the reasons behind why we have asked him to leave.”

“We hope some of the things he has learned here will help him in the future,” Mordey continued, “and look forward to the day when Pete decides to consider recovery again.”

Doherty checked into the Cabin at the end of June to overcome his addiction to heroin and crack cocaine. His “rigorous treatment programme” was to include yoga, elephant trekking and cognitive behavioural therapy. With costs of about £7,200 a month, the Cabin boasts a 96% “treatment completion rate”.

The singer’s decision to travel to Thailand, with manager Andy Boyd, resulted in last-minute cancellations at T in the Park, Rock for People and the Super Bock Super Rock festivals. The former Libertines singer has now reportedly returned to London, where he is working on a new solo album with producer Adem Hilmi. Several of these songs have been posted as demos to Hilmi’s blog.

Ah yes, elephant trekking –– the backbone of any rehabilitation program.  Unless he was riding the elephant naked  through the dark jungle in order to find berries, which were his only source of nutrition, I’m not sure how I see the character-building element to this?  Isn’t it more like ecotourism, or just plain VACATION?

Rehab is not a place where you go to make friends or ride horses or sit on the beach, and if you are going somewhere that looks like that, then I call bullshit.  Check out a review –– yes, there is essentially a Yelp for rehab –– below of a place called The Beach House, which costs $10,000/month, or $20,000 for a private room.  Comments in bold.

The Beach House 4 stars (4 STARS!  Michelin Stars?  Rotten Tomatoes?)

This relaxed sober-living manse is a great next step for rehab grads who’ve become enamored with the Southern-California recovery lifestyle—so long as you don’t mind just a touch of obligatory “bunch of strangers living together” drama.

A crackhead plays with her dog on the beach.

 

 

 

Only thing missing is a margar… woops.

 

Price: $10,000/mo. $15,000–$20,000/mo. for a private room

Insurance: No (Why would insurance pay for a spa stay?)

 

Overall: 4 stars

Accommodations: 5 stars

Treatment: N/A   (Why is the treatment N/A?  Shouldn’t this be the only thing residents weigh in on?)

Food: 4 stars

Detox: No (Too messy for this manse)

Built into a cliff along a rugged stretch of Pacific-Coast sand you’ll find Malibu Beach Sober Living’s Beach House, a halfway house like none other. Standing five stories tall, this idyllic sober-living home is all big windows and light, surrounded by palm trees and with four beachfront decks—the better to foster a sense of serenity and ease, as its primarily upper-class residents transition from rehab back into real life.

 

The main drawback? Beach House residents may get too attached to this California sober-living center, and to the luxurious private or semi-private suites they’ll call home for varying amounts of time; former residents told The Fix that they lived here for anywhere from three months to more than a year. (I smell cult) Owner and executive director Kimberly James—who’s also worked at Cliffside Malibu, Cirque Lodge and Passages—has a way of making potential residents feel comfortable about choosing the Beach House as the place to continue their recovery. One alumnus said, “Kimberly gave me a tour of the house, and it seemed like a great place to get sober with such a beautiful environment.”

 

Once they move in, the max of nine residents, who range widely in age, from 18 to 55, get along—for the most part. “There was drama, obviously, but drama will occur anytime you have a bunch of strangers living together,” said one Beach House denizen who’s apparently well acquainted with MTV’s The Real World. Another cited his annoyance at one roommate in particular, who he didn’t think should have ever been admitted to the sober house. “Her apathy got on my nerves,” he said, adding, “Maybe I was jealous of how little a crap she seemed to give about anything.”

But more importantly, a survey of former residents suggests that a majority of those who come here are serious about staying sober, and encourage their roommates to do the same. Describing what may be the best kind of peer pressure, one Beach House alumni noted, “I was resistant at first to attend 12-step meetings, but eventually I got [so] sick of being at the house all by myself that I started going as a social thing—and then I really started liking it.”

Another thing that people really seem to like here are the healthy and varied meals—and if you don’t like what’s on the menu, you can add items to the shopping list and cook for yourself in the house’s open, modern kitchen. Weekend brunch includes eggs, pancakes, hash browns, bacon and the like, while at dinnertime residents dig into stuffed chicken (a chef specialty), fish, steak and more. (What, no foie gras?)  A nearby roadside stand keeps the kitchen stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables—and every once in a while, there’s an all-vegan dinner, “which were very few, thank god,” said one resident. On Thursday evenings, Beach House chefs fire up the barbecue to grill steaks, hamburgers, chicken and other outdoor favorites, followed by an in-house, semi-open AA meeting.

Beach House staff are generally well-liked by their clientele, who reportedly enjoy shooting the breeze with them just as much as they do their roommates. Of course, that could have something to do with staff not having a whole lot to crack the whip about, given that the daily schedule is much more low-impact than a full-on treatment center. Residents are required to engage in two hours of “recovery work” daily, (I do appreciate the quote marks here) whether therapy or a 12-step meeting or something along those lines—but besides that, your time is your own. Household chores are limited to the very basics, such as cleaning up after yourself and putting things away. “There were housekeepers who took care of the dirty stuff,” said one former resident.  (How does this count as transitioning back to real life, then, if you don’t do your own laundry?  Well, I guess these ARE mostly upper class people.)

The focus at the Beach House is on providing a supportive environment where clients can strengthen the foundation of their recovery—not on restrictions or deprivation. As such, using one’s cell phone, surfing the web or watching TV is allowed at any time—in fact, the place has 17 flat-screen HD TVs with premium cable. (Fuck. Off.)  Such a policy can be good for a sober-living house, said one resident, because “there is nobody in my life back home who will restrict me, so to say that I had to have the lights off at 10 pm or something like that would be really stupid.” House rules are similarly low-impact, although some basic things like no smoking indoors, no blasting the TV or stereo at odd hours and so on are enforced pretty rigorously.

Fitness-minded residents can avail themselves of either the small on-site gym, or a larger one three miles away, to which everyone in the house gets free membership. You can also splash around in the small, infinity-edge house swimming pool, chill out in the hot tub or just hang out on the beach with your roommates. In fact, one of the best parts of living at the Beach House are the parties—for Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve, Super Bowl Sunday and so on—wherein lots of sober people from neighboring facilities as well as Beach House alumni, family and friends, get together for music, food, pool volleyball and more. “Just general good times,” said one alumnus.  (Just like rehab should be!)

You’ll probably say, “To be fair, ID, this is a HALFWAY HOUSE, and not a rehab,” but still, I stand by my conviction that rehab shouldn’t be a spa.  If this is the halfway point, then I’m sure the residents’ rehabs had… what, 9 HD flat screen TVs?  With that kind of incentive to stay sober, why, relapse should be all but unheard of!

End rant.

How Odd

July 17, 2012

Somebody posted a picture of my living room on their blog.

That’s Slash!

How is it that they could have stolen such a shot?  The only people who have been there recently are the 12 carefully selected invitees to the Parlor Party, my houseboy, Oscar, and the string section of the New York Philharmonic.  Curious!

More Yayoi?

July 17, 2012

I told my friend that I hate to feed a trend. “Trend is an empty/ridiculous term nowadays. Embrace the dot!”

Can it be?

She illustrated a version of Alice in Wonderland?

FYI, I think Atlantic Wire writer Maria Popova suggested that, “Since childhood, Kusama has had a rare condition that makes her see colorful spots on everything she looks at.”  I think this is untrue.  I think she’s just obsessive –– it’s a psychiatric condition rather than a neurological one (I’m heading the committee that is fighting for more obvious distinctions in the new DSM.)  Maybe I’m wrong, though.

That is an excellent question, Yayoi.

PISSED, Part II

July 16, 2012

You know when you get really annoyed by certain things that you KNOW shouldn’t annoy you, but you can’t shake the feeling that you want to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT?  Here are my two gripes for the day:

1. So sometimes I look on Craigslist for jobs, and I’ll usually look under “writing jobs” and “writing gigs.”  Very frequently people post unpaid internships under the JOBS section, even though it just seems logical that something that is unpaid cannot, by virtue of it being not compensated, be a job.

2. Perez Hilton.  I know, I know: what in the name of Michael K. would be the point of getting pissed at Perez?  I have decided that as he has lost weight, he’s become a more superficial and less interesting blogger/person, probably.  I dislike intensely his lack of knowledge of basic psychology and his picking favorites among the Hollywood community and planting kissy emoticons on their pictures every time he posts about them.  (Interestingly enough, his favorites are my least favorites, including most notably Katy Perry.)

Re: the psychology issue, see the below post on Demi Moore:

Holy shiz!

We knew Demi Moore’s relationship with her three daughters was strained, but we didn’t know it was THIS bad!

As we previously reported, Demi’s daughters Rumer, Scout and Tallulah have pretty much cut off all contact with their mother after a series of fights.

Now, it sounds like the girls are thinking about cutting off their own mother even more — by getting a RESTRAINING order against her!

A source spilled:

“Demi has been calling them incessantly and emailing them, leaving them tearful messages and begging them to call her and the girls are sick of it. It is a really drastic measure and not something they are considering lightly but they just feel like they want some peace and quiet.”

Wow! Life is WAY too short for something so drastic, girls…!

However, it sounds like it’ll take a whole lot more than phone calls to slap their mom with a restraining order!

A legal expert stated:

“You can’t get a restraining order against your mom when she’s trying to call you. If that were the case, many, many more people would all be in court!”

As for Demi, it sounds like she isn’t taking the separation from her kids too well. Moore is said to be “absolutely devastated” and distraught over the whole situation.

We don’t blame her! We would be, too.

This is such an unfortunate circumstance all around.

While the legal expert has a good point, the fact remains that Perez is poo-pooing the girls’ attempts to distance themselves from their mom when it’s obvious as a can of whipped cream to the head that she’s all kinds of fucked up, and watching ONE episode of Intervention with Jeff VanVonderen would teach a person that sometimes the best thing you can do is cut off your addicted loved one.  Sheesh.

If I could, I would abandon (see the connection?) my job, sell my possessions, and travel the world spreading the JVV gospel, all the while wearing a t-shirt with this graphic on it.

PISSED

July 16, 2012

I feel shitty, but I think I have only myself to blame –– I compiled a list of quotes from the Haredi anti-Internet asifa pamphlet that were actually pretty legit, and my friend told me to submit it to Harper’s (after McSweeney’s rejected me –– again!) and I dragged my feet a little out of nervousness, and lo and behold!  They did it on their own.  But I think theirs was a straight quote, whereas mine are carefully selected, and will be the basis of an essay/maybe thesis?/maybe book: Useful Lessons to Be Learned From Religious Fanatics.

25 Quotes from the Asifa Pamphlet “Challenge of Our Times” That Make Semi-Legit Points

“Many people convince themselves that they need Internet access, but if they would honestly assess the reasons that they are connected to the internet, they would realize that they could get by without it.”

“But today, even the most innocent looking children, from the best families, may have access to the worst images imaginable.”

“In addition, a determined child (or adult) can figure out a way to work around a filter so that he (or she) can get to the inappropriate material, or he can stumble on the password for the filter and disable it.”

“Make no mistake about it: today’s challenge in many ways is the most difficult in history.  Certainly, if we don’t recognize the challenge for what it is and do something about it, it threatens to sweep us away like a tsunami.  Yes, that challenge is the Internet –– the easy connectivity we have to the world, including its worst influences.”

“The Internet has already wended its way into our daily lives, into our conscience, and it is no longer possible simply uproot it from our midst.”

“The Internet not only exposes things going on around the world, but also creates virtual realities that do not exist anywhere else.”

“When a parent sits down to supper with one hand holding the fork and the other his smartphone, from which he cannot unglue his eyes, that parent may be sitting with the family in a technical sense, but the children realize they are technology orphans.”

“The [Internet] encourages some to display their knowledge, others their sense of humor, and yet others their ability to mock authority.  The irreverent attitude is all-pervasive.  And since no one knows who you are, there is nothing to worry about, no one to be embarrassed of.”

“In a very literal sense, all of the vices humans have uncovered over the millennia are now attacking internet users daily, jumping out at them from the screen and in many cases going on to determine their personal lives.”

“The Internet nurtures irreverence.”

“The Internet gives every individual his or her say, and that is both its strength and its weakness.”

“On the Internet an accomplished scholar with years of experience can post an authoritative exposé on his area of expertise, only to have someone with not the slightest background in that subject reject the entire edifice with a single derisive comment.”

“The constantly changing text, the stream of images that flit by, the ever-present additional links beckoning to explore new horizons, and the constant stream of information floods the mind.”

“Although the Internet provides its users with a feeling of freedom, a sense of euphoria at having the world at his fingertips, it is no more than an illusion.”

“The rise of social networking, blogs, chat groups and even texting all threaten to destroy the traditional relationships that are still so vital to our societal wellbeing.  Family and friends are forgotten as people come to rely more and more on the companionship and approval of their virtual counterparts.”

“Bloggers develop split personalities, drifting through life like robots while their true emotions are bound to the ethereal friendships they have developed for their digitalized companions.  By filling our emotional ‘stomachs’ with the ‘junk food’ of Internet society, we are stunting our appetite for the healthy relationships our psyche truly crave.”

“The element of anonymity that the Internet allows people to bypass the natural, inborn shame they would normally feel when involved in inappropriate behavior.”

“The ‘instant’ mentality where everything has to be accomplished with dizzying speed can permeate our actions in multiple areas.  We lose our patience; our tempers get shorter.”

“Additionally, the medium of e-mail leaves the intended tone of the writer to the reader’s imagination.”

“One of the ubiquitous themes of the Internet is: You.”

“This means that instead of carrying out whatever task he is supposed to be doing, a typical worker will instead check his e-mail, send text messages, receive cell phone calls, send instant messages, check blogs, and ‘Google’ things.”

“Information shared on ‘social networks’ can be mistakenly viewed as private (‘only my Friends can see it’) or semi-private, but in reality just by being a part of these communities, we sacrifice a certain level of privacy.”

“Forgetting can be helpful: it helps us forgive people, it helps us deal with emotional pain and trauma, and it de-clutters our mind from useless details.  But the Internet has the potential to interfere with that process, bringing up old memories and not letting us move on from the past.”

“On the Internet, you are lulled into a sense of security by the illusion that no one can know who you are.  The truth is, your computer’s unique IP address is easily tracked by almost any website and anyone who knows a thing or two about computers.”

“The Internet may greatly facilitate real learning and research, but it doesn’t provide a short-cut to substitute for the process of learning in-depth.”

—-

Eat your heart out, Lewis Lapham.