American Pastoral #9

Walker Evans, Moundville, Alabama

Tacoma cop killer’s house, night stake-outWest Point cadets listen to ObamaCairo Illinois, 2009Windsor Hotel, New York, circa 1880Screentest by Andy Warhol, 1964Goodyear blimp, 1938Empire State Building, NYCGolden Gate Bridge, 1937Ed Ruscha

Rural homeless ranch, San Luis Obispo, Ca.Long abandoned black school, North CarolinaTeabagger convention, Pennsylvania

Looking for work, unemployed, NYCHarlemPhilip GustonKenneth Noland, 1924-2010James TurrelMiami art show

Voters in Massachusetts reflected the national mood in rejecting the business-as-usual choice of an institutionally chosen replacement for Senator Kennedy and installed instead truck-driver given to contradictory words – a real politician ! – while Obama recoiled and took a populist turn on that opportune target of the moment, bankers.  The stock market in response took a dive, and the Supreme Court, ruling in a matter which could have led to a narrow decision decided instead to open the floodgates of corporate spending on election campaigns.  Perhaps this will result in a new law stating explicitly that corporations are not “persons” and do not have the same Constitutional rights and protection of real persons.  Or perhaps it will result in a while in a government 100% of, by, and for the corporations which in fact govern a massive amount of the national political culture (and most other culture) already.

Jasper Johns, Flag

The Pleasure of Friends (#1)

Above photographs by William Farley

As an habitual traveler, someone who’s lived in a long line of cities and towns (and country), each long enough to call it “home,” I have an equally long string of friends spotted around the world.  Most of them, settled unlike me, have lives like most people centered on a cluster of nearby family, friends, work associates.  In consequence it’s me who does most of the maintaining in these scattered relations – I write, sometimes I probably seem to badger, I drop by once in a while, sometimes in a very long while.

Owing to the tenuousness of these relationships I have the pleasure of being surprised  – seeing how we change with age, or in some cases, seem not to.  Some of these friends are artists, or writers, or otherwise creative sorts.  Some not.   In the long absences they do things I don’t get to see, so visiting often includes the joy of seeing what they’ve been up to – photos or paintings, or things written, or films made.  It is I think a kind of pleasure that those who see them more often don’t get – a little explosion of happiness in seeing the pent up work of a friend.  Kind of like an little emotional earthquake, but positive.

So I’m going to start a little series here, posting some things gathered from friends – maybe old, maybe new, but tracings of their lives through their work.

The above photographs are by William Farley, whose website has more information on his work.  I met Bill long ago, we both don’t seem to recall – maybe 1980 or so, and probably through our mutual friend Rick Schmidt (of Feature Length Films for Used Car Prices fame).    At the time I was living in the Bay Area and I’d see Bill once in a while at a screening, or at one of Rick’s croquette games.  I can’t say Bill and I were close friends, but we were friends.  He was a filmmaker, at the time one of the Bay Area’s better known independents, with a nose for what was going on in the cultural world.  One of his earlier films had Whoopie Goldberg back before she became well known.  Since I left the San Francisco area back in 1993 we didn’t really correspond, though here and there I kept in touch, and if I recall properly the last time I was through – some 5 or 6 years ago – I went by his offices down on a pier on the Bay.  Recently he sent me a commissioned video piece he did on an older artist there, Elaine Badgely Arnoux.  It was very nicely done, though of course constrained a bit by the purposes of the commission.  Along the way he also pointed me to the above photographs, a series titled Fog@Night.  I found these quite stunningly beautiful, and it made me wonder why in the past he hadn’t done his own camera work on his films. (He had done so on some earlier short works.)   And looking at these, I find myself wishing to see a film of such imagery.  Something without a story, simply tonality and mood.   How about it, Bill?

You can see all the photographs in this series and other information about William Farley at his website.  High quality prints are available for sale if interested.

Seasonal Stuffings

I seem to have forgotten to post this, but I guess its seasonal nature is still appropo, so post away we will.

Aurora Borealis

Being not a Christian, nor a rabid consumer, it’s my habit to slip into hibernation around now, and to re-emerge once the Gregorian calendar’s New Year’s sillinesses have subsided and life resumes its more usual patterns.  Days of obligatory happiness, be they these, or national markers, or saintly ones, all tend to make people more cantankerous – lemmings in flying silver sardine cans, ski slopes crammed, roads jammed, all in the name of dubious requisite celebrations for things few believe in, producing errant gifts and angry family get togethers.   I’ll pass.

[Note: there’s a new post up for my daughter, Clara, on her blog. ]

Despite the bah humbug above,

Boas Festas e Feliz Ano Novo, Clara !