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12 September 2011

September 12th, 2001 to September 12, 2011

On September 12, 2001, I wrote a thing about the day before. (Though I was living in Brooklyn at the time, that week I just happened to be in Los Angeles.) Here it is with some pictures I took when I returned to New York.

Remains of the Day

The thing to remember in the face of death is that it is a moment when we who live through it are the most alive. We notice the same things. Reality comes into focus.

This morning, you freeze up when you hear the news and drop a handful of change on your hardwood floor: three nickels, four dimes, six pennies, one quarter. You wonder where on Earth the news photographers are going to get their awful negatives developed and their pictures processed. You decide to take up smoking again, and the brown-skinned clerk at the 7-Eleven where you buy them is upset because a customer came in this morning to make hateful accusations. Calls arrive from everyone you know, but there‘s little to say, so these conversations are brief. You want to cleave to ex-lovers, because the problems you had seem minor now. As you drive to work, you look pedestrians in the eye and share a moment. You open a door on a co-worker, and he recoils and squints his eyes. “A little jumpy today,” he says. There is a common understanding.

“We’ve given up a little of our freedom today,” a police chief says on the radio. But it‘d be wrong to give that up. We will give blood instead. Read more »

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6 August 2011

Mixtape #3: The “Mixtape” Mixed Tape

A few days ago, I posted my latest mixed tape. You can listen to it / stream it / download it from several places, including the player at the top of this post — but since you’re here visiting the favoritist of my online presences (presensci?), I will send you right to the source. It’s Mixtape #3.

Here is some backstory. Twice in the early ’00s I made the unregrettable yet unwise decision to live in Los Angeles. Loved the fish tacos & fresh produce & afternoons at the beach. Hated the strategic socializing, Balkanized artistic scenes & overly siloed friendship worlds, and the creativity that went into people’s creative ambitions rather than into creativity itself. (Also: brunch.)

Basically, I found these things to be true: The Day of the Locust, Mike Davis’s City of Quartz, Fitzgerald’s The Last Tycoon, Charles Bukowski, What Makes Sammy Run?. They’re all true!

(Albeit maybe a bit less dramatic.)

(And, well, maybe I spent too much time in LA reading Hollywood novels.)

The bright spots in my life out there were the friends that I made and continue to know. You can visit some of their work via various internet gateways here & here & here & here & here & here. I’m sure I’m forgetting some people. Actually, lots of people. Sorry to the people! So many people!

Anyways, one of those persons mentioned above is my former LA roommate Seth, who has become a big fancy Hollywood director. In addition to now making big-ass budget narrative feature films, he’s previously made a sort of genreless documentary-like thing that the best films of any sort I’ve ever seen, a very fine rock-doc that’s as much about mortality & Mormanism as it is about rock, toured with a very admirable country band in the midst of a genuine crisis, and contributed to all manner of long-forgotten shots. Here is he:

As inspiring as his work itself can be, I’ve always found his work ethic to be as admirable as the final products. One forgets in the arts that what we do is work. Our forgetting is what makes so many elements of society misunderstand & fail to appreciate that work.

Of late, I’ve had vague aspirations to extend my creativity beyond the shepherding of various new recording artists and mid-career musicians, and moving pictures seem like they’d be something fun to be involved with in some as-of-yet unknown capacity. Seth has kindly served as something of a gateway, sending me some scripts — “the good ones” he told me.

Long story short, above is the imaginary soundtrack to one script he liked, a film that may never (knowing the film business, likely never) get made. It opens like this:

The winter stars, impossibly big and bright, fill the sky. We gaze on these ancient beacons of hope and inspiration; the same stars that stood witness to the birth of kings, inspired poets, gave hope to the hopeless. Then we trace a silver string of starlight down through the too-huge universe, to where this inspirational, ancient light comes to rest on…

Beer cans. Milwaukee’s Best, to be specific.

The beer cans float in a kiddie pool. Next to a broken trampoline. In a yard with a rusted pick-up truck. Surrounded by many other yards decorated in much the same manner.

Welcome to SPOKANE, WASHINGTON – a city comprised of churches and strip bars equally – who’s chief export seems to be its endless footage for the Cops TV series.

It’s about a poor(ish) girl, her outsider friends, her dead parents, the rock’n’roll scene in the Pacific Northwest, a discovered mixtape, some not-quite specified past in the early 90s (or thereabouts).

I hope this latest mixtape brings some of that to mind, and maybe paints a picture larger, even, than that.

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25 March 2011

Jungian psychology for entertainers

Every now again I happen upon one of those New Yorker stories that seem to summarize the daily tribulations of my life and work in the creative sphere. Dana Goodyear‘s “Hollywood Shadows”–about entertainment industry psychotherapists Barry Michels and Phil Stutz–is one of those stories. If it has one failing, it’s the lack of connection to other Los Angeles celebrity healing cults such as Scientology, a topic well covered by the magazine only a few weeks before. (Viz Lawrence Wright’s “The Apostate” about ex-Scientologist Paul Haggis.) Perhaps this is more my failing than that of the magazine–such is my predilection for random connections.

In any case, the editors of the (sometimes misnamed!) New Yorker has the potential to compile a quite excellent anthology of pieces explaining the odd facts of Los Angeles life to the rest of the world. In any case, the psychologist article is free on the web right now. Enjoy some excerpts after the jump:
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17 February 2011


I like how he climbs on Fallon’s back & the QR Code as record cover. The zombie/dead girl in hospital robes could cause them problems someday.

‘nuf said!

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4 February 2010

Seven pictures from Los Angeles & a slur against the city’s good name

To you, my western friends, with your new California babies,

Another recent study, from the University of California, Davis, published in Autism Research, also found high rates of autism in children born around Los Angeles, as well as nine other California locations. Autism, usually diagnosed before a child is 3 years old, is a developmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction and communication and repetitive behavior.

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