February 28, 2006

Scrape Off, Restart

I've had better days.

It just didn't feel right.

Posted by Dennis at 7:13 PM | Comments (0)


Manifesto for the early 21st Century:

Together facing the new totalitarianism

After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new totalitarian global threat: Islamism.

We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all.

The recent events, which occurred after the publication of drawings of Muhammed in European newspapers, have revealed the necessity of the struggle for these universal values. This struggle will not be won by arms, but in the ideological field. It is not a clash of civilisations nor an antagonism of West and East that we are witnessing, but a global struggle that confronts democrats and theocrats.

Like all totalitarianisms, Islamism is nurtured by fears and frustrations. The hate preachers bet on these feelings in order to form battalions destined to impose a liberticidal and unegalitarian world. But we clearly and firmly state: nothing, not even despair, justifies the choice of obscurantism, totalitarianism and hatred. Islamism is a reactionary ideology which kills equality, freedom and secularism wherever it is present. Its success can only lead to a world of domination: man?s domination of woman, the Islamists? domination of all the others. To counter this, we must assure universal rights to oppressed or discriminated people.

We reject ? cultural relativism ?, which consists in accepting that men and women of Muslim culture should be deprived of the right to equality, freedom and secular values in the name of respect for cultures and traditions. We refuse to renounce our critical spirit out of fear of being accused of "Islamophobia", an unfortunate concept which confuses criticism of Islam as a religion with stigmatisation of its believers.

We plead for the universality of freedom of expression, so that a critical spirit may be exercised on all continents, against all abuses and all dogmas.

We appeal to democrats and free spirits of all countries that our century should be one of Enlightenment, not of obscurantism.

12 signatures

Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Chahla Chafiq
Caroline Fourest
Bernard-Henri L?vy
Irshad Manji
Mehdi Mozaffari
Maryam Namazie
Taslima Nasreen
Salman Rushdie
Antoine Sfeir
Philippe Val
Ibn Warraq
Posted by Dennis at 7:01 PM | Comments (0)


After a scrape off, surfing waves of doubt and glory- each moment a crest or a trough.

i'm not a surfer, but you know what I mean.


Posted by Dennis at 2:01 PM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2006

Scrape Off, Restart

That's right.

It looks better thru this lens, but in the flesh it had too many blast-lets, too much chance versus intention. The signal-to-noise ratio was too low.

Posted by Dennis at 4:59 PM | Comments (0)

February 26, 2006

Happier New Year

After the previous post, I thought It'd be good to upload images from the recent festivities inaugurating the year of the dog. Dragons bless the local businessess, taking offerings of money and lettuce amid much gonging and drumming and hubub. Then, the firecrackers... the more bang for your luck.

Posted by Dennis at 5:17 PM | Comments (0)

Happy New Year

Look what i saw on the way to lunch today. A "happy" new year parade.

It's the Falun Gong. I don't know much about them, so I wiki.. Ah so. There is a certain Li Hongshi, who created an ersatz (too strong a word?*) religion back in 1992. (!) And now there are millions of adherents. I guess Joseph Smith had his problems too, back in the day.

But as for resisting tyranny, I'm all for it! I don't think people have a vivid enough idea of the historical fact of the genocide and depredations brought on by Communism in the 20th century. Check this out. Reverb here. Another rabbit hole here.

But I wonder how much of a cult this organization is? (A cult is a group who won't let you leave them.) Now, that would be tyrannical. I hope they are as benign as they say they are... I've had it with all this irony twisting all the time.

Details here, here, and here..






*Double checking, I come across descriptions like this:

In some of his published lectures, Li states that aliens, gods and demons exist, humans have a "celestial eye" in their pineal gland (tianmu, also known as the "third eye"), that Earth has been influenced by extraterrestrials [3], and that remains of unknown prehistoric civilizations can still be found, for instance, in the bottom of the oceans. According to some sources, Li also explains that mixed-race people are instruments of an alien plot to destroy humanity's link to heaven. "By mixing the races of humans, the aliens make humans cast off gods," he said in a lecture in Switzerland. These same sources claim that he made a statement: "by embedding their technology and science in human bodies, aliens control their thoughts". However, this is one of the several instances where the alleged direct quotes cannot be traced back to Li.
...and I think that "ersatz" is as good as any other word. I know that Wikipedia is not a gold plated authoritative source. But if you, a disagreeing blog reader, have an issue with it, please inform me of the argument as to why talk of space aliens won't bring a crinkled eye upon a proposition. I'd like to learn more.

UPDATE: Check this out: " China?s economic boom has dazzled investors and captivated the world. But beyond the new high-rises and churning factories lie rampant corruption, vast waste, and an elite with little interest in making things better. Forget political reform. China?s future will be decay, not democracy. " A thorough read of this link makes me gloss past the space alien/ third eye stuff. I mean, who knows what the pineal gland really does?

Posted by Dennis at 3:19 PM | Comments (0)


My hands are full.
So's my head.
I'm feeling all bearish, quiet.
Clouds are forming, and hopefully not a head simply clouded.
I should rain soon.

He estado pensando como esto:


Posted by Dennis at 10:53 AM | Comments (0)

February 22, 2006


I'm just taking a another look at this one through this blog lens.

As for titles....

I've named this one "Thousand League-Eyes" (ww#247). The last painting,, I've named "Migrant Flows" (246).

Posted by Dennis at 8:14 PM | Comments (0)

He estado pensando


This painting dates from nearly three years ago.
Due to the fact that we see in real time simultaneously in distance and close up, I simulate the real thing like so:

Scroll up and down, scroll up and down, scroll up and down,scroll up and down, scroll up and down, scroll up and down.

So, as for what I am seeing? There is a wall of interlocking carefulness in my work that is both a virtue and a vice. I'm pushing the "nature of materials" argument so far that sometimes I think the fierceness* of my attack resembles David Lynch's angriest dog. Naturally, we all want to break through, and so I am now looking at this 2003 painting titled "Carnal" and I'm imagining rapid throw downs, pounding rocking pads of flowers, scrawling lines across the surface, and eagerly scooping out chunks to keep the thickness from getting out of hand -as appropriate to the imagistics of the painting of course.

And the image? I tend to work it out as I go, and then I kick a leg out to keep it unstable.... as it always is with phantasmagoria.

*OK, I recognise the overheated prose, bad especially when describing my own work.... I guess it's true: "Temerity is an occupational hazard for artists."

Posted by Dennis at 11:01 AM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2006



The shot's a bit blurred, the way I feel at the moment.
(Put away the violins, please.)
Fried with a chest cold. A mild fever.

It happens.

Posted by Dennis at 2:45 AM | Comments (0)

February 19, 2006

Ahora + Open Source


open source technique

Posted by Dennis at 5:06 PM | Comments (0)

All Hail Gail

Deep readers of this blog might know that I have some ideas about urban planning. They took shape many years ago, but I have never campaigned them into higher levels towards reality... I got "distracted" by art school and the great beyond.


So, I'm optimistic that we have a mayor here in Los Angeles who is driving a vision of the city that bears a bit of resemblance to my very own pet urban concepts:

There are at least two Los Angeles landscapes in the life of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

There is real-life L.A., through which he hustles daily, running late by afternoon as the pictures and autographs, the abrazos and the press of eager constituents pile up. And then there is the Los Angeles of his imagination, the city whose outlines he hints at in speeches and whose details spill out when he settles in long enough to ruminate.

Villaraigosa's imagined Los Angeles is denser, taller and greener than the city he now governs. High-rises dominate the skyline and hold not just offices but thousands of apartments, cleared for construction by zoning rules that encourage development of housing towers. The subway reaches west under Wilshire Boulevard, paid for with money Villaraigosa is convinced he can secure from the state and federal governments.

Islands ? villages, as he calls them ? sprout around subway stops and are ribboned together by swaths of green space, most notably along the Los Angeles River, where the mayor imagines trees and grass in place of the long segments of concrete culverts and channels that once carried runoff to the ocean. And all across that vast landscape, scores of pocket parks bring smatterings of green to even the densest urban neighborhoods.

Downtown is the heart of Villaraigosa's future Los Angeles. It hums late into the night. The Civic Center is a sloping park surrounded by museums, restaurants and shops. New apartment buildings feature courtyards that offer public space during the day and protected enclaves at night. Some of the new buildings have small parks on the roofs, projects designed with energy efficiency in mind.

The article goes on to voice doubt through the figure of Joel Kotkin. Mr. Kotkin, one of the venerable wise men of LA, apparently believes that L.A. is not New York and that L.A. was built to be an automotively linked urbs and suburbs... essentially like it is... or was. Downtown L.A. wil not be Manhattan. He thinks that L.A. will be less like Paris and more like Teheran.

True enough. But people are still moving here, despite the rising costs of living. And while I've never been to Teheran, I don't think the Mayor's dream resembles Paris or Manhattan. For me, actually, the scary image of density is the northern freeway entrance into Barcelona through a canyon of twelve story apartment blocks, the Gran Via del los Corts Catalanes. But now that I think about it, there the inhabitants don't seem especialy unhappy and the streets are resonably clear.

What's better, the mayor has brought in the "Mechanic":

To transform his vision into a plan, Villaraigosa has hired Gail Goldberg, an urban planner whose tenure in San Diego has been lauded for its integration of neighborhood development with downtown expansion. Goldberg will soon assume her duties as Los Angeles' planning director, and she argues that the city can have density along the lines that Villaraigosa espouses without compromising neighborhoods.

Under her tutelage, San Diego adopted a plan known as the "City of Villages," in which priorities for downtown and the rest of the city were spelled out in detail after various communities met to discuss and harmonize their hopes for the future. Los Angeles, she said, may benefit from a similarly inclusive process.

I'm optimistic.

I found a decent bio on Goldberg here. (before we enticed her to move north).

UPDATE: I found a Krier site here (no surprise that it doesn't have many bells and whhistles. Here is a good page with his distilled argument googled into after looking for his book "Houses, Palaces, Cities".

I read that he lives in the South of France. Hmmmmm.

Posted by Dennis at 9:49 AM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2006

Regional Nation State-lets

I've just talked to Stephanie, who is traveling through the EU on a lighting fast shopping expedition (work related). She's in Baqrcelona for a night and she reports that the big news is the hubub of Catalans agitating in the street:

The issue that is convulsing this nation of 44 million is a proposal by the legislature of semiautonomous Catalonia, the wealthy northeastern area centered around Barcelona, to gain an even broader degree of self-rule. Spain's Socialist government has agreed in principle. The battle is over where to set limits.

At a broader level, Catalonia's campaign is being watched by the European Union, where the idea of devolved regional power is viewed as a means of fostering local identity in a one-size-fits-all superstate of 25 nations.

Those watching most keenly are the other Spanish regions, particularly the violence-prone Basque country, which is already the most autonomous of Spain's 17 regions and is pressing for even more rights.

Conservatives led by the opposition Popular Party fear a domino effect: Today the Basques, tomorrow Catalonia, and then Valencia, Andalusia, Galicia and the Canary Islands ? all in various stages of overhauling their own regional constitutions.

Says Jorge Fernandez, a conservative Catalan lawmaker: "With a statute like the one passed by the Catalan parliament, the Spanish state as we know it will disappear."

Further down in the article, are stories of generals palming their pistol grips. It's interesting (perhaps in the manner of the legendary Chinese curse) that the identitiy of the natioin state in the EU is dissolving into regional nation state-lets. I'm sure there are people in other countries that are watching with interest (the Kurds, Tootsies and Pashtuns, among a multitude of others).

And further down still:

Both Catalonia and the Basque region say change is natural and is happening elsewhere in Europe. Britain has given Scotland its own parliament, France has offered the Mediterranean island of Corsica autonomy, and Italy's parliament reformed the constitution last year to shift health, education and policing authority from Rome to regional authorities.

The EU's Committee of the Regions, set up to give local and regional authorities a say over the laws the bloc passes, is "very much for" decentralization and is watching the Catalan drama with interest, says committee spokesman Dennis Abbott at EU headquarters in Brussels.
Posted by Dennis at 8:36 PM | Comments (0)

Jeepneys in Los Angeles

We need Jeepneys in L.A.:

Of all the kinds of mass transit that have been funded by grants from Washington, rail-based rapid transit has proved the most expensive, the least traveled, and the least adaptable to the population movement that has characterized American cities over the last thirty or forty years.

The Cato Institute's conclusion is simple: The Federal Government should stop funding monopolistic public transit systems and avoid major investment in fixed facilities such as tracks, which can only be used for rail transport. Instead, it should encourage cities to turn to competitive, privately owned van lines and other forms of transit that emphasize flexibility.

-1992 Editorial, City Journal

Our mayor is big on mass transit, a good thing as far as I'm concerned. He is pushing to build a five billion dollar extension of the subway to Santa Monica. It would be great to see the red line pook out at the face of the Palasades.

The way I see it, if driving is not a right but a privilege, then how can a free society permit their cities to be configured in such a way as to control the natural right for a citizen to navigate urbanism by potentially revoking their privilege to drive a motor vehicle? The City Journal article seems to conclude that subways are money pits, and the article concluded that perhaps New York's subway might be a neccessary money pit. But I'm suggesting that all cities of a certain scale might need a subway system, given our prospective future of a denser urban lfe. Who knows, maybe robots can cut the cost? I wonder how the costs break down? Hmmmm. On the other hand, perhaps it is possible to have scattered urban villages, dense pedestrian, small scale transit with automobiles navigating the wards/ cantons --intercity rail sans subway?

I digress, pardon me.

The point of the City Journal snippet -so I understand- was that mass transit tends to be a financial boondoggle. That may or not be true, we'll see. Some traffic planners see the automobile as the ideal mass transit system. They've got an argument: point to point and on demmand, it is not to be equaled. They just think the cars should be singel user, like motorcycles or... scooters!

Until that promised day....

At least if we are to have a boondoggled subway system, maybe we might as well use it... and we can't use it if we can't get to it. Some people question the expense to use ratio, and their arguments are strong only if we stay in our cars. But the city is thickening and people need to get around. The friction of higher density is going to be.... interesting.

As much as we need a subway to the sea, a public rail line is only one part of a constellation of systems that should work together to move people within a metropolis. Public transit: buses, subways, intercity light rail, short distance trolleys... and private enterprise transit: taxis and... jeepneys! Jeepneys can fill in the bottom end, human scale end of the spectrum. Let people go after the market born of urban density's friction.

Now, the way to do it is to go to Manila and find a Jeepny expert....

Posted by Dennis at 8:26 PM | Comments (0)

February 17, 2006

...plans never survive the first contact...


Posted by Dennis at 8:05 PM | Comments (0)


Another recent book (re)purchase was one I read when I was a sailor, just a kid not even twenty. I found "Journey to the East" in a bookstore in Hong Kong and devoured it.

It is as vivid as I remember it so long ago. Here, clips from the introduction:

This story was written by Wu Ch'?ng-?n, of Huani-an in Kiangsu. His exact dates are not known, but he seems to have lived between A.D.1505 and 1580. He had some reputation as a poet, and a few of his rather commonplace verses survive in an anthology of Ming poetry and in a local gazateer.

Triptaka, whose pilgramage to India is the subject of the story is a real person, better known to history as Hs?an Tsang. He lived in the seventh century A.D., and there are full contemporary accounts of his journey. Already by the tenth century and probably earlier, Tripitaka's pilgrimage had become the subject of a whole cycle of fantastic legends. From the thirteenth century onwards these legends have been represented on the Chinese stage...

Monkey is unique in its combination of beauty with abbsurdity, of prfundity with nonsense. Folk-lore, allegory, religion, history, anti-bureaucratic satire, and pure poetry - such are the singularly diverse elements out of which the book is compounded....

As regards the allegory, it is clear that Tripitaka stands for the ordinary man, blundering anxiously through the diffficulties of life, while Monkey stands for the restless instability of genius. Pigsy, again, obviously symblizes the physical appetites, brute strength and a kind of cumbrous patience. Sandy is more mysterious. The commentators say that he represents ch'?ng, which is usually translated 'sincerity', but means something more like 'whole-heartedness'. He was not an afterthought, for he appears in some of the earliest versions of the story, he remains throughout singularly ill deffined and colourless.

And now, the first two pages of the book:

There was a rock that since the creation of the world had been worked upon by the pure essences of Heaven and the fine savors of Earth, the vigor of sunshine and the grace of monlight, till at last it became magically pregnant and one day split open, giving birth to a stone egg, about as big as a playing ball. Fructified by the wind it developed into a stone monkey, complete with every organ and limb. At once this monkey learned to climb and run; but its first act was to make a bow twards each of the four quarters. As it did so, a steely light darted from this monkey's eyes and flashed as far as the Palace of the Pole Star. this shaft of light astonished the jade Emperor as he sat in the Cloud Palace of the Golden Gates, in the treasure Hall of the Holy Mists, surrounded by his fairy Ministers. Seeing this strange light flashing, he ordered Thousand-League Eyes and Down-th-Wind Ears t open the gate of the Southern Heaven and look out. At his bidding these two captains went out to the gate and looked so sharply and listened so well that presently they were able to report, 'This steeley light comes from the borders of the smal country of Ao-lai, that lies to the east of the Holy Continent, form the Montain of Flowers and Fruit. On this mountain is a magic rock, which gave birth ot a stone monkey, and when he made his bow to the four quarters a steely light flashed from his eyes with a beam that reached teh Palace of the Pole Star. But now he is taking a drink, and the light is growing dim.'

The Jade Emperor condescended to take an indulgent view. 'These creatures in the world below,' he said, 'were compounded of the essence of heaven and earth, and nothing that goes on there should surprise us.'

That monkey walked, rand, lept, and bounded over the hills, feeding on grasses and shrubs, drinking from streams and springs, gathering the mountain flowers, looking for fruits. Wold, panther, and tiger were his companions, the deer and civet were his friends, gibbons nd baboons his kindred. At night, he lodged under the cliffs of rock, by day he wandered among the peaks and caves. One very hot morning, after playing in the shade of some pine-trees, he and the other monkeys wernt to bath in a mountain stream. See how those waters bounce and tumble like rolling melons!

There was an old saying, 'Birds have their bird language, beasts have their beast talk.' The monkeys said "We none of us knows where this stream comes from. As we have noting to do this morning, wouldn't it be fun to follow it up to its source?' With a whoop of joy, dragging their sons and carrying their daughters, caling out to younger brother and to elder brother, the whole troupe rushed along the streamside and scrambled up the steep places, till they reached the source of the stream. They found themselves standign before the curtain of a great waterfall.

All of the monkeys clapped their hands and cried aloud, 'Lovely water, lovely water! To think that it starts far off in some cavern belwo the base of the mountain, and flows all the way to the Great Sea! If any of us were bold enough to peirce that curtain, get to where the water comes from and return unharmed, we would make him our king!' Three times the call went out, when suddenly one of them leaped from among the throng and answered the challenge in a loud voice. It was the Stone Monkey.

'I will go,' he cried, 'I will go!'
Posted by Dennis at 9:15 AM | Comments (0)

February 15, 2006


What I see in the viewfinder of the camera is so different from what I see by the unaided eye. Is this better?

Posted by Dennis at 8:59 PM | Comments (0)


After the jump, I've reproduced Jean Baudrillard's recent essay: "THE PYRES OF AUTUMN", with which I agree and disagree in such an intricate way that it would take more time than I have at the moment to comment directly upon it. I found it via Arts and Letters Daily.

Instead, let me fly this selection from my recently purchased book: "Victory in Tripoli", which has a brief sketch of the history of the people with whom we are struggling:

The appelation "Barbary", a European term no longer in wide circulation, comes from uncertain roots, probably either the Greek barbaros or the Latin barbarus, meaning "barbarian," a term used by the Romans to describe people who spoke neither Latin nor Greek. The early peole of this area, and still a significant ethnic minority, thus came to be known as Berbers - even by the Arabs, who derived it from the adjective barbari meaning foreign and primitive.

Despite the ascendency of the name Berber, these pastorlists always described themselves as Imanzighen, meaning the noble or freeborn. Although they proved ferocious warriors throughout history, the Berbers have, ironically, been predominantly a conquered people ever since the arrival of the Phoenicians near the end of the second milennium B.C. Through the ages, the Berbers have been conquered, although never wholly subdued, by a variety of empires and nations- the Greeks, teh Cathaginians, the Romans, the Vandals, the Byzantines, teh Arabs, the Ottoman Turks, and most recently, the French. The Arab conquest was the most substantial, however, and the Islamization of the Berbers was total. Through it the Mahgreb was permanently entered into the the Islamic world, and the people of Barbary became active relligious partisans in the Mediterranean frontier.

Jump to page 23 and to the early days of the USA as a nation:

In May 1786, Thomas Jefferson, then the U.S. ambassador to France, and John Adams, then the U.S. ambassador to Britian, met in London with Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja, the resident Tripolitan ambassador, to try to negotiate a peace treaty to protect the United States from the threat of Barbary piracy. These future U.S. presidents questioned the ambassador as to why his government was so hostile to the new American Republic even though America had done nothing to provoke any animostiy of any sort. Ambassador Adja answered them, as they reported to the Continental Congress, "that it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all tehy could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise."

As you read the Baudrillard piece, bear this in mind:




Fifteen hundred cars had to burn in a single night and then, on a descending scale, nine hundred, five hundred, two hundred, for the daily ?norm? to be reached again, and people to realize that ninety cars on average are torched every night in this gentle France of ours. A sort of eternal flame, like that under the Arc de Triomphe, burning in honour of the Unknown Immigrant. Known now, after a lacerating process of revision?but still in trompe l?oeil.

The French exception is no more, the ?French model? collapsing before our eyes. But the French can reassure themselves that it is not just theirs but the whole Western model which is disintegrating; and not just under external assault?acts of terrorism, Africans storming the barbed wire at Melilla?but also from within. The first conclusion to be drawn from the autumn riots annuls all pious official homilies. A society which is itself disintegrating has no chance of integrating its immigrants, who are at once the products and savage analysts of its decay. The harsh reality is that the rest of us, too, are faced with a crisis of identity and disinheritance; the fissures of the banlieues are merely symptoms of the dissociation of a society at odds with itself. As H?l? B?ji [1] has remarked, the social question of immigration is only a starker illustration of the European?s exile within his own society. Europe?s citizens are no longer integrated into ?European??or ?French??values, and can only try to palm them off on others.

?Integration? is the official line. But integration into what? The sorry spectacle of ?successful? integration?into a banalized, technized, upholstered way of life, carefully shielded from self-questioning?is that of we French ourselves. To talk of ?integration? in the name of some indefinable notion of France is merely to signal its lack.

It is French?more broadly, European?society which, by its very process of socialization, day by day secretes the relentless discrimination of which immigrants are the designated victims, though not the only ones. This is the change on the unequal bargain of ?democracy?. This society faces a far harder test than any external threat: that of its own absence, its loss of reality. Soon it will be defined solely by the foreign bodies that haunt its periphery: those it has expelled, but who are now ejecting it from itself. It is their violent interpellation that reveals what has been coming apart, and so offers the possibility for awareness. If French?if European?society were to succeed in ?integrating? them, it would in its own eyes cease to exist.

Yet French or European discrimination is only the micro-model of a worldwide divide which, under the ironical sign of globalization, is bringing two irreconcilable universes face to face. The same analysis can be reprised at global level. International terrorism is but a symptom of the split personality of a world power at odds with itself. As to finding a solution, the same delusion applies at every level, from the banlieues to the House of Islam: the fantasy that raising the rest of the world to Western living standards will settle matters. The fracture is far deeper than that. Even if the assembled Western powers really wanted to close it?which there is every reason to doubt?they could not. The very mechanisms of their own survival and superiority would prevent them; mechanisms which, through all the pious talk of universal values, serve only to reinforce Western power and so to foment the threat of a coalition of forces that dream of destroying it.

But France, or Europe, no longer has the initiative. It no longer controls events, as it did for centuries, but is at the mercy of a succession of unforeseeable blow-backs. Those who deplore the ideological bankruptcy of the West should recall that ?God smiles at those he sees denouncing evils of which they are the cause?. If the explosion of the banlieues is thus directly linked to the world situation, it is also?a fact which is strangely never discussed?connected to another recent episode, solicitously occluded and misrepresented in just the same way: the No in the eu Constitutional referendum. Those who voted No without really knowing why?perhaps simply because they did not wish to play the game into which they had so often been trapped; because they too refused to be integrated into the wondrous Yes of a ?ready for occupancy? Europe?their No was the voice of those jettisoned by the system of representation: exiles too, like the immigrants themselves, from the process of socialization. There was the same recklessness, the same irresponsibility in the act of scuppering the eu as in the young immigrants? burning of their own neighbourhoods, their own schools; like the blacks in Watts and Detroit in the 1960s. Many now live, culturally and politically, as immigrants in a country which can no longer offer them a definition of national belonging. They are disaffiliated, as Robert Castel [2] has put it.

But it is a short step from disaffiliation to desaf?o?defiance. All the excluded, the disaffiliated, whether from the banlieues, immigrants or ?native-born?, at one point or another turn their disaffiliation into defiance and go onto the offensive. It is their only way to stop being humiliated, discarded or taken in hand. In the wake of the November fires, mainstream political sociology spoke of integration, employment, security. I am not so sure that the rioters want to be reintegrated on these lines. Perhaps they consider the French way of life with the same condescension or indifference with which it views theirs. Perhaps they prefer to see cars burning than to dream of one day driving them. Perhaps their reaction to an over-calculated solicitude would instinctively be the same as to exclusion and repression.

The superiority of Western culture is sustained only by the desire of the rest of the world to join it. When there is the least sign of refusal, the slightest ebbing of that desire, the West loses its seductive appeal in its own eyes. Today it is precisely the ?best? it has to offer?cars, schools, shopping centres?that are torched and ransacked. Even nursery schools: the very tools through which the car-burners were to be integrated and mothered. ?Screw your mother? might be their organizing slogan. And the more there are attempts to ?mother? them, the more they will. Of course, nothing will prevent our enlightened politicians and intellectuals from considering the autumn riots as minor incidents on the road to a democratic reconciliation of all cultures. Everything indicates that on the contrary, they are successive phases of a revolt whose end is not in sight.

Posted by Dennis at 3:03 PM | Comments (0)



Posted by Dennis at 1:43 PM | Comments (0)

Joel Mesler, Opening

I was going title this blogpost: "Joel Mesler, Painter." I had a second and third thought about it. He's had a rich history since coming to ChinaTown several years ago. He has operated a gallery, an art printing house, a music studio, written movies, publisher of the Rambler... am I missing anything? But Joel has always been a painter, it is his primary identity. When I met him years ago as he was settling a gallery into the building he had bought, he exhuberantly told me: "This is going to be a painter's gallery!" I remember cringing... not because there is anything wrong with doing this (I now flash the painter's salute: a sharply executed left fist to the head, and say: "P is painting!" -try it, it's fun), but that despite the enforced proscription against painting and for the greener pastures of new genre art forms in my late 80's graduate art school experience, I've come to believe that the horse would graze best unharnessed to the pasture whose grass we believe is greener. If it is indeed greenest, the horse will eat there anyway.

After curating a few great painting shows, Joel made the turn toward the expanded field with the installation of Jean Young's Happy Lion Gift Store. Jean was our landlady who was retiring her store and Joel suggested a direct translation of the contents of her store lock stock and barrel into his gallery. Her final inventory would be for sale while the appropriation would complete the Duschampian blessing as art. It was a great success with apprciative reviews to prove it, and what followed was a string of adventures into an artworld unneccessarily tethered to painting.

But he's a painter after all. I remember him saying that hs didn't want to make artwork that depended on a sales pitch story to support it. He knew he needed to burrow into the studio and incubate an initial body of work. Last October, in he went. This show is his coming art party... and he was/is a little nervous about it.

Which is natural. Openings are nerve racking anyway.

Bart Exposito is a generous man. He offered a one day, one wall, one shot opening so Joel can show this, his first public body of paintings. Social lubricant, food and drink flowed. Bart did the honors.

First, let's see the show:

The guys caled me over the day before as they were installing the show. Too many choices abounded, could I cut through the tangle? I sat down and asked Joel: "What were you imagining the show could look like? You must have held a mental image of it. What is the animating idea about your work? We once taked about how some paintings were different according to how many shots of Jamenson were taken. Do you want to organize it by sobriety? Did you want to edit by only showing a part of the whole body?" And so on.

Who was Joel Mesler?

And could he tell me?

I trotted out the metaphor of the diver and the dubloons, about how diffficult life is and how perhaps we can persist despite the clouds of mud that cloud our view. I was riffing at the edge of incoherence/inaity, but I kept it under control.

In what direction were those dubloons before the confusion hit?

As you can see, I suffer from acute earnestness.

In came Roger Herman, notorious pirate painter of ChinaTown, if not LA. He's been here for a lifetime and his German accent is still strong: "Oh, you must certainly hang them in this way, very tight salon!" He was the bull who assembled the china shop.

And it was good.

Joel didn't want me to publish a singular image of any particular painting. The one above of David Kordansky is the exception. He didn't want to be corraled by others, much less by himself -hamstrung by any particular identity as a painter.

I had an argument against this, but I held off, respecting his wishes. People will able to see them soon enough.

Details were ok, though:

People and groups os people; a perspectival natural /dreamworld albeit twisted; hands of G-d flying from off frame; G-d as firmanent floating aloft; besotted folk, perpetrators and passersbyes; injuries and blessings... stuff of-but-not-from the old testament Torah.

"It looks like..." I projected the blocky thugs afflicting Lara Croft in the early version of that computer game. People were rendered in crude facets so that something like a face would be reduced to image planes.

Joel smiled and replied that it was not his intention at all... but that it was simply the best he could do even if it was simplistic. Of course. Doesn't it always come to this? And shouldn't art be qualified by its' capacity to be filled by the imagination of others?

We start out crudely and gain sophisitcation, but as we groove deeper into higher levels, don't we tend to long for the first moments when approach and technique is wide open and free form? Don't we all expect that if "a child could do that", then wouldn't it be wonderful to paint as free as a child even in our senior years?

The names float to the surface:






Posted by Dennis at 12:20 PM | Comments (0)

February 14, 2006


Detail in the early stages. Don't get too attached to it.

Posted by Dennis at 9:41 AM | Comments (0)


They're shooting a movie here in ChinaTown. The word is that its with Jim Carey. In this shot, Jim is looking for his lost dog. He goes into the alley, calling for his dog. He can't find him. He then goes into the restaurant kitchen asking: "Have you seen my dog?". A Chinatown local merchant, Hayward got a small part in the shot posing as a cook who yammers Cantonese back at Jim.(Yes, his name isn't too Chinese. Ask him about and his shoulders would shrug, and with a squinted eye, say "So what?".) It sure looks like the sequel for "Ace Ventura, Pet Detective", doesn't it?.

That will take all day and into the night.... perhaps thirty seconds of film time.

I had to blog this, of course. Out came the camera and I sauntered into the work site frenzy. After I clicked this pic, a guy came up to me and told me that they tend to get pretty upset to see other digital cameras on the set. He was nice about it. Alright, alright. I backed away and into the studio, blog nugget in hand.

The movie people have an amazing mobile logistical capability. Check this shot only three hours earlier:

Posted by Dennis at 9:13 AM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2006



Posted by Dennis at 4:40 PM | Comments (0)


The idea of drawing in the previous attempt involved starting off with a strategy of scribing onto a raw canvas ground. With this second attempt, the canvas ground is a foregone conclusion... but maybe that's a saving grace. In ways that I find difficult to put into words at the moment, the raw canvas is not the best way to... "draw" (now framed in quotations because I realize that there is some artifice in the idea). Maybe that's why the memory of "The Long View" (the detail image in this post) has surfaced in my head.

Maybe I can "draw" by pulling paint off -instead of putting paint on?

Posted by Dennis at 10:05 AM | Comments (0)

Scrape Off, Restart

The previous attempt didn't work, unfortunately. As much as I am an accomplished self-flagellant, I shall refrain from Greco-oyster-eyed-soul-searching self analysis right now (my young friend, painter Raffi -who, by the way, has a show at Black Dragon that will open in March- has found those Greco images for me recently, I can't wait to get them). More of that later.

Instead, I wil try to make hay and counter attack.


Wish me luck, I'll need it.

Posted by Dennis at 9:37 AM | Comments (0)



Posted by Dennis at 7:21 AM | Comments (0)

Migrant Flows

This morning's news surf brings this ominous headline usually seen in edgier sites, but now that it has been headlined in Newsweek magazine, it's looming much larger:

The Decline and Fall of Europe

By Fareed Zakaria

Feb. 20, 2006 issue - Cartoons and riots made the headlines in Europe last week, but a far less fiery event, the publication of an academic study, might shed greater light on the future of the Continent. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, headquartered in Paris, released a report, Going for Growth, that details economic prospects in the industrial world. It is 160 pages long and written in bland, cautious, scholarly prose. But the conclusion is clear?Europe is in deep trouble. These days we all talk about the rise of Asia and the challenge to America, but it might well turn out that the most consequential trend of the next decade will be the economic decline of Europe.

Grim news indeed. Of course, I'm aware of the eternal debate of the differential worldviews and quallity of life issues between the USA and the EU and I reject the idea that there should be any competition between us. It is true from my experience that life in Europe is tailored to enjoy a cup of coffe in a human urban setting whilst savoring the fruits of modern civilization. From a jaundiced Yankee eye, that would be a decided deficiency... but then again that particular Yank would be judging whilst also panting furiously on his endless treadmill. A reciprocal view would beequally prejudiced, of course.

Each of us has something to learn from the other.

Europeans don't have to become frenzied capitalists to overcome their economic troubles, but it would seem that they would have to break up the ice of social protection a bit to let innovation flow. There are many ways to be a free market based democracy, even under the relentless sun of the apparently unforgiving logic of the marketplace. We can compete, but we shouldn't take it too literally.

In 25 years, the number of working-age Europeans will decline by 7 percent, while those over 65 will increase by 50 percent. One solution: let older people work. But Europe's employment rate for people over 60 is low: 7 percent in France and 12 percent in Germany (compared with 27 percent in the U.S.). Modest efforts to allow people to retire later have been met with the usual avalanche of protests. And while economists and the European Commission keep proposing that Europe take in more immigrants to expand its labor force, it won't. The cartoon controversy has powerfully highlighted the difficulties Europe is having with its existing immigrants.

What does all this add up to? Less European influence in the world.

Bad news, that. I love Europe. The world needs Europe.

So, what to do? People who know me well, know too that I'm prone to the occassional bright idea (as in the kind that makes the eyes roll into the sockets).

Well, how about this one?:

How about flying the new Airbus 380 over to Mexico and ferry planeloads of Mexican immigrants into the EU, thusly integrating them in the excellently managed EU way?


This would give rioting Mulims a pause... as well as zenophobic Yanks who want to seal off the Southern border. It would be great for Mexico in that it would transform a problem into advantage. We, here in the USA, have learned that Mexican immigrants are wonderful immigrants, legal or illlegal (the latter becmoes the former eventually). They are hard working, family oriented, nurturing each generation to succeed better than the last and they assilimate well without losing their former identity. We are becoming them as fast they are becoming us. ?Muy agradable! They also spur sluggish subcultures in terms of assimilation, as we here in Los Angeles have seen in the transformation of South Central LA (Latinos have bought homes there over the years, changing the ghetto into a better suburb). We are damn lucky to have them. Imagine if there was competition between the USA and the EU for Mexican immgrants? How could we (us Yanks), who believe in the primacy of the marketplace, ever complain about that? Mexico might modernize sooner with a cultural and currency backflow. As they modernize (and begin to need their labor force), they might place a higher value on keeping their workers patriated.

Any way you cut it, it win-win for all. I like win-win scenarios. ?Muy bien, hombre!

(image source)

UPDATE: For more, check out Theodore Dalrymple's article and Anne Applebaum's reply at Cato Unbound.

Posted by Dennis at 7:17 AM | Comments (0)

February 11, 2006

The Right to Offend

The following is Ayaan Hirsi Ali's speech (the second half) in Berlin yesterday:

Today I am here to defend the right to offend within the bounds of the law. You may wonder: why Berlin? And why me?
Berlin is rich in the history of ideological challenges to the open society. This is the city where a wall kept people within the boundaries of the Communist state. It was the city which focalized the battle for the hearts and minds of citizens. Defenders of the open society educated people in the shortcomings of Communism. The work of Marx was discussed in universities, in op-ed pages and in schools. Dissidents who escaped from the East could write, make films, cartoons and use their creativity to persuade those in the West that Communism was far from paradise on earth.

Despite the self-censorship of many in the West, who idealised and defended Communism, and the brutal censorship of the East, that battle was won.

Today, the open society is challenged by Islamism, ascribed to a man named Muhammad Abdullah who lived in the seventh century, and who is regarded as a prophet. Many Muslims are peaceful people; not all are fanatics. As far as I am concerned they have every right to be faithful to their convictions. But within Islam exists a hard-line Islamist movement that rejects democratic freedoms and wants to destroy them. These Islamists seek to convince other Muslims that their way of life is the best. But when opponents of Islamism try to expose the fallacies in the teachings of Muhammad then they are accused of being offensive, blasphemous, socially irresponsible ? even Islamophobic or racist.

The issue is not about race, colour or heritage. It is a conflict of ideas, which transcend borders and races.

Why me? I am a dissident, like those from the Eastern side of this city who defected to the West. I too defected to the West. I was born in Somalia, and grew up in Saudi Arabic and Kenya. I used to be faithful to the guidelines laid down by the prophet Muhammad. Like the thousands demonstrating against the Danish drawings, I used to hold the view that Muhammad was perfect -- the only source of, and indeed, the criterion between good and bad. In 1989 when Khomeini called for Salman Rushdie to be killed for insulting Muhammad, I thought he was right. Now I don?t.

I think that the prophet was wrong to have placed himself and his ideas above critical thought.

I think that the prophet Muhammad was wrong to have subordinated women to men.

I think that the prophet Muhammad was wrong to have decreed that gays be murdered.

I think that the prophet Muhammad was wrong to have said that apostates must be killed.

He was wrong in saying that adulterers should be flogged and stoned, and the hands of thieves should be cut off.

He was wrong in saying that those who die in the cause of Allah will be rewarded with paradise.

He was wrong in claiming that a proper society could be built only on his ideas.

The prophet did and said good things. He encouraged charity to others. But I wish to defend the position that he was also disrespectful and insensitive to those who disagreed with him.

I think it is right to make critical drawings and films of Muhammad. It is necessary to write books on him in order to educate ordinary citizens on Muhammad.

I do not seek to offend religious sentiment, but I will not submit to tyranny. Demanding that people who do not accept Muhammad?s teachings should refrain from drawing him is not a request for respect but a demand for submission.

I am not the only dissident in Islam. There are more like me here in the West. If they have no bodyguards they work under false identities to protect themselves from harm. But there are also others who refuse to conform: in Teheran, in Doha and Riyadh, in Amman and Cairo, in Khartoum and in Mogadishu, in Lahore and in Kabul.

The dissidents of Islamism, like the dissidents of communism, don?t have nuclear bombs or any other weapons. We have no money from oil like the Saudis. We will not burn embassies and flags. We refuse to get carried away in a frenzy of collective violence. In number we are too small and too scattered to become a collective of anything. In electoral terms here in the west we are practically useless.

All we have are our thoughts; and all we ask is a fair chance to express them. Our opponents will use force to silence us. They will use manipulation; they will claim they are mortally offended. They will claim we are mentally unstable and should not be taken seriously. The defenders of Communism, too, used these methods.

Berlin is a city of optimism. Communism failed. The wall was broken down. Things may seem difficult and confusing today. But I am optimistic that the virtual wall, between lovers of liberty and those who succumb to the seduction and safety of totalitarian ideas will also, one day, come down.

Berlin, 9.02.06

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

(via Instapundit)

Posted by Dennis at 2:47 PM | Comments (0)

Thanks for Listening


Posted by Dennis at 5:32 AM | Comments (0)

To Life.

Rolling into ChinaTown in the wee hours.
Earlier, Stephanie and I put the home together: dinner, bath and bed.
We fell asleep, all's secure.
She has the night but I get a nap.
A painting is underway, the studio is hot.

Joel's studio lights are on. I flipped open the cell.
Whazzup? We talked about things.
I've been hibernating again. News felt good.
Highjinks. Stories.
People in trouble.
People saving grace.
People in ChinaTown.

I thought about impulses. Lifegiving and life denying.
Topics too big this post. This is just a note.
But our every act is either one for life or one for death.
Our arc in this world is a mix of the two.
We should cling to the former but wisdom seems to come with an acquaintence of the latter.
Especially art.

A big essay. This is just a note for later.

A night cap? Joel buys me a Jameson.
Sinke set up our drinks at Hop Louie, lights on, last call.
A toast: "To Life!".
I catch Joel's eye and we note the contradiction silently.

A big essay this is.

Finally at the studio. Lights on. Laptop open.
Music. An old favorite. Click: repeat.
Album : New World Order
Curtis Mayfield

How did I get so far gone?
Where do I belong?
And where in the world did I ever go wrong?
If I took the time to replace
What my mind erased
I still feel as if I'm here but I'm gone

Porched up in a rocking-chair
With my feet all bare
Rolling my blunt in a cigar wrap
Live an adolescent mind
never do take the time
Waiting for my high, quiet as it's kept

How did I get so far gone?
Where do I belong?
And where in the world did I ever go wrong?
If I took the time to replace
What my mind erased
I still feel as if I'm here but I'm gone

Mama told me I was best
Argue and punch in my chest
Son now be strong, let me take you home
I'd see in her eyes so sincere
Screaming, what got me here
Standing in the world and with my mind all blown

How did I get so far gone?
Where do I belong?
And where in the world did I ever go wrong?
If I took the time to replace
What my mind erased
I still feel as if I'm here but I'm gone?

How did I get so far gone?
Where do I belong?
And where in the world did I ever go wrong
If I took the time to replace
What my mind erased
I still feel as if I'm here but I'm gone

I do nothing but waste all my time
Leaving the world behind
Smoking my crack just to keep me high
Around the boys I play my part rough
Keep myself tough enough
Never to cry
Don't really want to die

How did I get so far gone?
Where do I belong?
And where in the world did I ever go wrong?
If I took the time to replace
What my mind erased
I still feel as if I'm here but I'm gone

How did I get so far gone?
Where do I belong?
And where in the world did I ever go wrong?
If I took the time to replace
What my mind erased
I still feel as if I'm here but I'm gone

Posted by Dennis at 2:32 AM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2006

Opening: Hotel California

Hotel California, The Glendale College Art Gallery.
February 4th ? March 18th, 2006

I thought you all might like to have seen more of the show and the opening.

Here is a list of works (some are blurred as I shot on the fly), clockwise as you enter the gallery:

Jodi Mohr
"JM06 1", 2006

Wil Fowler
Untitlted, 2002

Kristen Calabrese
"First Kiss, Homeless on Venice Beach", 2006

Karen Lofgren
"Cut the Thick and Break the Thin"

Linda Besemer
(Title Unknown), 2004

Violet hopkins
"El Verde", 2005
(yes, it's that small)

Kim Fisher
"Study for Gemstone #011 (Carbon)", 2005

J.P. Munro
"Battle of the Hydaspes", 2004-2006

Laura Owens
"Untitled" 310, 2006

Amy Bessone
"Gargoyle", 2005

Monique Van Genderen,
Untitled, 1997

Mary Wetherford
"Vines", 2004

Rebecca Morris
Untitled, 2001

Monique Prieto
"Pockets", 2005

Dennis Hollingsworth
"Present", 2003

Alicia Beach
"The Happiest Painting Ever", 2006

Mari Eastman
"Blue Auvergne hound(No.2)", 2006

Ingrid Calame
"Vu-eyp? Vu-eyp? Vuepy? Vu-eyp?", date unknown

Lecia Dole-Rocio
Untitled, 2004

Anoka Faruqee
"Fade Painting", 2001


There it is.

So, as with the curatorial intent of the show: " ...a casual snapshot of Los Angeles painting in the early millennium....". Tell me, what does this snapshot look like to you?

Posted by Dennis at 4:29 PM | Comments (0)


I started with a drawing.

I sratched it down, not wanting to work on paper too much, else pen an dink would achieve a separate reality than paint and I've been stuck between those modes before.

It feels kind of silly at the moment to express why and how I came to this entry into the painting. (I've already erased plenty of verbage.) So, I'll leave it as this:

I started with a drawing.

Or of a thought. A notion, really. Intuition? Conceptual dousing?

Let me take the long view digitally here. I like the many viewpoint thing, seeing the work in different lighting conditions and media, like a jpeg.

Posted by Dennis at 5:49 AM | Comments (0)

February 9, 2006

Idiot Joy Showland

My old friend Kevin O'Sullivan has pulled together a little micro theater scene here in ChinaTown. I searched and found a PDF:

Wes Walker
Sharon Yablon
Kevin O?Sullivan
Jacqueline Wright
SHORT VIDEO by: Michael Medaglia
473 Gin Ling Way
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 625-7500
Milling about at the Mountain's bar, I was surrounded by actors, theater people, movie folk. (It's a world so unfamiliar to me that I don't even know what terminology to use to refer to them.) My friend Daniel Brodo works in that world. They call it "the business". Daniel said those words to me one day and I asked "What business is that?" Through his double take: "THE business, Dennis." AH-SO. I forgot. In this town, for those who work in the movie industry, there is only one business. Galleries here wait for the day that Hollywood wakes up and realise that they can collect fine art too. Too bad for them (us) that the people in THE business think that only they are creating the ultimate fine art. Whatever happens in Chelsea or in the pages of Art Forum (alas) seems to be for them, beside the point. They could be right.

(But I'm not betting on it.)

Fly on the wall style, I listened as I was immersed in what was a reconstituting social set: "It's great to see you again!" "It's been so long." "It's great that Kevin is doing this. The community needs this."

Good for you, Kevin. Bringing people together. Experimenting. Do it yourself. Feats and deeds. Short pieces of theater, just big enough for meat on the bone and short enough to work the idea out into the world without the hub-bub that could encumber a standard production.

Human scale theater.

The night started with a video that had one had to don 3-D glasses to view. It was surprisingly good. The place was packed. Among the pieces that followed on the improvised stage upstairs was "Fully Formed Human Head" (written and directed by Wesley Walker) featuring daddy's head on a plate and the murderous daughter mounting the headless corpse... and yes, it was funny.

Kevin's description of that night is better than I can do:

piece was awesome & visually arresting (head &
shoulders) tina preston is don preston from zappa &
the mothers of invention fame (he was there
grayhairedbeard)...vudi from american music club
(guitarist), slim evans rank & file (drummer) were
also there...trying to appeal to musicians artists
poets novelists dancers video artists...next one up in
The language of the acting communtiy is new for me. It sounds/reads like it was hyperlinked, references tumbling and jostling in the text. He goes on:
--knicked title of night from Fall song...earlier
show (In Every Dream Home a Heartache) knicked from
Roxy Music...provisional title of next is Confusion is
Sex ( title stolen from Sonic Youth)...mike shamus
wiles has been in Magnolia (Tom Cruise's sidekick)
Fightclub (bartender with 'halo' from busted neck) &
X-Files (show & movie)...future shows will include
more multimedia...Jackie Wright got a buzz from her
play "Eat Me" Wes Walker won L.A. Weekly award for
best direction "The Celebration"...directed plays of
his own, plus Murray Mednick, Sarah Koskoff..
So, Kevin is a music-title-nicker. That's probably why the Stone's lyrics played in my head as I perused a link concerning Kevin's movie, "Wild Horses".

Kevin nicked me a bit with his piece: "MABUHAY! OR SHIT RIVER". It begins:
(A bare, cold lit space indicating a cancer ward. From
offstage, a husky voice)
MILES Queen Bee!
Hong Kong!
(MILES, a strongly built man in his early 50s, moves
onto the stage with a medicated gait, wearing an
open-backed hospital smock, exposing his bare ass. He
turns to face the audience and continues a litany of
names. A length of clear tubing from an IV dangles
from one arm, a hospital wrist-bad gives his stats.)
MILES Mona Lisa!
Alligator Pit!
Man, who can forget the P.I?
MILES clutches himself, bracing against the
institutional cold.)

Everything here is hitting close to home for me. A man standing past high noon in life. Echos of Subic Bay, sailor days. Cancer wards and mental hospitals. Environments that enveloped and consumed my fathers (three: father, step father and father-in-law). A haunting dialog that reminded me of Joyce's Finnegans Wake (or as much as I have read and heard read aloud). Anna Livia Plurabelle in a singsong all afloat in ether. Memories melting, the past and present all a slurry in a chemo drip.

Cynthia enters from behind Miles, his significant other underlined with gravitas:
CYNTHIA I couldn?t dream of it all...your stories. It
should have made you seem older. It should have made
you wise.
MILES You were, what, 20? 21? Not old enough to buy
CYNTHIA I didn?t need to.
MILES I bought it then.
CYNTHIA Liquor is something I never needed to buy.
MILES But you drank. You liked it.
CYNTHIA With you. You liked it. So I did too. It was
MILES We had a lot of fun.
CYNTHIA Too much fun.
MILES Good times. We had ?em. God, you were beautiful
then. I thought, what a pair of tits!
CYNTHIA It?s funny how you remember things,
distinctly, and then you start to wonder if it
happened at all.
MILES It happened. I can tell you. It happened. I was
a sucker for you. Right from the start. Even though I
knew from the get go you were a game player. You liked
to play games. Back in Subic, nights in town ?no games
there. All up front.
There were some adjustments to be made.
CYNTHIA If it?d been a year before, I wouldn?t have
given you the time of day.
MILES It felt strange, being home.

The place was crowded. I had my digital camera with me but I dared not break the mood with an obnoxious range finding anti red eye light. Later, I sk Kevin for a pic, he didn't have one. "Why don't you draw one?" Uh. Yea. Why didn't I think of that? This digital camera has taken over my sketching impulse. I didn't want to shoot a digital pic of a hand drawing. So I pulled out my new Wacom Graphire Tablet. The image above is the second drawing I've done with it. Miles (Michael Shamus Wiles) was that fiftyish guy. Muscular, thick neck, spent testosterone by the gallons.

I felt all heart heavy as Kevin nicked it up. Lost vitality. Youth spent. Life hurtling into the far end of the arc. It was the dialog of things said when you have the last chance to say them, things that are too hard for us to deal with in this here and now because we have this illusion that there will always be a here and now forever. The groan of the bell curve of the Baby Boom. But it won't be that way always, of course... and if you're lucky. You might get a chance to say them with that disapating, anguished, heart-devouring breath. It's that day that comes for all of us but we don't want to think about it too much.

Or maybe it was just a bad dream.

(CYNTHIA backs out of the light, leaving MILES alone
MILES Cynthia??
(to offstage)
Why should I trust your memories more than my own? I
was there too, you know! How can two people see things
so differently. Are the memories of a memory to be
We never could get our stories straight, the two of
us, even when we were lying to ourselves.
If I was given the chance, to make things right...I?d
bend. More...I?ll make a different life for us, right
now. I know how to do it. It will always have been
right. I need you...You were always so much older than
You were my one true love.
So long ago...Cloudy...but it feels real to me, more
real than what is happening now. Maybe this will feel
more real when it becomes a memory too. I have trouble
with the present. There is too much past pushed up
against it.
(Pause. Miles gathers speed, energy.)
MILES Magsaysay Drive all night long. Subic
City...Creeping on Gordon Ave.
I remember:
The D Wave.
The Red Horse.
San Miguel.
Shit River.
The women! Oh how I miss the P.I.!
(MILES loses strength.)

If he said 'Brown Fox!" I would have sobbed.

Quietly, to myself.

UPDATE: Kevin fills in some background information:

Pharmacy is the name of the group putting these things
on. It exist for the purpose of putting on these
events. It is related to Pharmakos.org which is
intended to be a kind of electronic art & literary
journal. It's in the process of being built right now
(you can check it out if you like: trying to get the
portfolio section up to snuff)

Idiot Joy Showland was the name of one night.
(the first was In Every Dream Home a Heartache, back
in dec.

I worked with wes walker when i was part of empire red
lip -one of john steppling's companies before he moved
to poland, We also studied with murray mednick
together (he was playwright-in-residence at Theater
Genesis, St. Mark's Church, NYC at the height of the
off off broadway scene and later started Padua
Playwrights Festival w/ sam shepard irene fornes john
o'keefe and steppling)

wes has directed his own pieces (and recieved an l.a.
weekly award for 'the conception') as well as pieces
by murray mednick and sarah koskoff.

sharon, who has been part of two Pharmacies, was part
of Oxblood with wes and has produced Sharon's Farm, a
program of site-specific plays that have been staged
in public parks, hotels, and offices.

as for length for the pharmacy nights the ideal is
about 10-12 minutes but last time they went a little
longer...the night is designed to come in around one hour

On their site pharmakos.org, they've got this great image of Oedipus.

"Fair Colonus! Land of running horses. Where leaves and berries throng and wine dark ivy climbs the bough. The sweet sorjourning nightingale murmers all night long."
I remember seeing Lee Breuer's Gospel at Colonus, so wonderful. Stephanie, Peggie (her mother) and I saw this in Hollywod back in '88 or so. But that's for another blogpost.

Posted by Dennis at 2:49 PM | Comments (0)

February 8, 2006

Line, Drawn.

This foto pretty much sums it all up.

It's remarkable that it was the act of drawing was the spark that inflamed the streets of this civilizational war. Remarkable, in that it was a cartooonist that pulled us across the ramparts instead of a Clancy-like Special Forces operator.

The art world is separate from a cartoonist's world and yet the ambiton of the art world often extends into every modality of life, especially that of the graphic arts. I thought that it might be interesting to take a closer look at those incendiary drawings.

Let's take a peek:

First, a llittle background. Austin Bay of StrategyPage does a good job with a tight description of the circumstances leading to the currrent furor:

Why did the editor of JP decide to publish the cartoons? In actuality they where solicited by the editor after he heard a story of Danish illustrators refusing to do artwork for a children's book about Muhammad. The artists had refused to do the work because they feared reprisals. Their fears were based on the murder of the Dutch filmmaker Theo von Gogh. Von Gogh had produced a film critical of Muslim attitudes towards women.

Twelve illustrators responded to JP's request. The cartoons were printed along with an article explaining the self-censorship story.

This cartoonist is clearly saying: "Relax (angry Islamofascists). I'm just a Dane from Southwest Dennmark." The fear is palpable.

This one is strange. This artist is poking fun at the magazine that commisioned his artwork. Worse, he is fingering the paper (Jyllnad-Posten) as an enemy target! It is as if the cartoonist is saying: "The reactionary provocateur newspaper made me do this."

Fear, again.

Fear, indeed. Coersion is in the air and all of the mainstream media in the USA and large chunks of the EU have demurred from including the very images they were writing about (although it was the EU press that first stood for their rights). Self censorship is so much more elegant than a muzzle.

This guy is drawing his fear, straight out. Amazing that he chose to go ahead with the project.

This artist is having a hard time identifying the face of Mohammed, period. He's saying: "I can't do it." or "I'm not doing it."


I surf:

It seems to me that the real debate should not have focused so much on the boundaries of free speech as on the wisdom of reproducing those cartoons in other Western publications (though important they are). After all, Western media routinely publish things that are not so wise or sensitive to expose. From intelligence leaks to mockery of foreign nations, passing through derision of religion and religious beliefs (and those who entertain them), there is plenty to choose from. Was anti-Americanism ? so rampant in many European media especially in the last four years ? always wise? Is the anti-Semitism that occasionally surfaces in commentary on the Middle East something wise?

But should the answer be censorship? Obviously not. Should the aggrieved parties torch embassies and media centers, or threaten to behead any repeat offender? Again, no. In a truly free society, grievances find legitimate ways of expression and sometimes, if their case is sound, of redress.

In the West we do not believe only in freedom of speech, no matter how silly the speech is. We also believe in the power of ideas to expose the silliness of some speech through robust, but civilized debate.

(This, from Emanuele Ottolenghi, who teaches Israel studies at Oxford University)

Check this too, from the Washington bureau chief of the German newsweekly Die Zeit:

By last week it was not an obscure topic anymore but front-page news. And it wasn't about religious sensibilities as much as about free speech. That's when the cartoons started to show up in papers all over Europe.

Much of the U.S. reporting about the fracas made it appear as if Europeans just don't get it -- again. They struggle with immigration. They struggle with religion. They struggle with respect for minorities. And in the end they find their cities burning, as evidenced in Paris. Bill Clinton even detected an "anti-Islamic prejudice" and equated it with a previous "anti-Semitic prejudice."

The former president has turned the argument upside down. In this jihad over humor, tolerance is disdained by people who demand it of others. The authoritarian governments that claim to speak on behalf of Europe's supposedly oppressed Muslim minorities practice systematic repression against their own religious minorities. They have radicalized what was at first a difficult question. Now they are asking not for respect but for submission. They want non-Muslims in Europe to live by Muslim rules. Does Bill Clinton want to counsel tolerance toward intolerance?

Well, this guy broke rank. But it's a strange cartoon. At first, the message is "Stop, stop!" And then, it's: "Stop, stop! There's nothing more to sacrifice yourselves for!" But does this mean that the cause is over... or worse, that inexhaustable heaven has been exhausted of G-d's* supply of virgin women? Heavens, no! If I were Muslim, the implied insult to the chaste capacity of the fair sex of my people would have me involuntarily reach for my scimitar or AK or explosive gel packs or whatever.

This one has the eyes blacked out like it was porn. Not that I know porn, you know... I'm just saying. But we don't get to see the murder in the eyes. Was this to make it better for us or the cultural "Other"?

Now, this one has a classical air about it. The image looks like it was lifted from a historical artwork and collaged or altered by the addition of the bomb. An old style bomb, ye-olden days Spy vs Spy kind of device. No cell phone detonator, plastic explosive bomb belt harness thing. A cast iron ball packed with gunpowder with a string fuse lit to go.

Pretty good though. It's my favorite.

Now, this one is all sweetness and light. I'd look for wisdom in Islam if I thought Mohammed was kind of like this. He's a searcher, kind of like Quixote or Kwai Chang Cain or Don Juan Matus.

No fear here.


I don't know what to make of this except to associate it with images of Russian Constructivism or something. The Star of David and a Crescent Moon coming together to make a face-like aspect of several individuals? A message of unification and hope?

One could only... hope.

Another self parody, it seems. The cartoonist mocks his ability to draw Mohammed. And the orange dropping into the turban? It must mean something in Denmark, I suppose.

Another benign image of the prophet.

And another, the last of what was shown in the Danish newpaper back in October.

What's up here? The riots can't be about this. Muhammed has had his image reproduced before in history.

Well, it seems a lot of this was ginned up. Manufactured. Consider this, from the Telegraph's own blog.:

As this blog has reported in the last couple of days, there have been sharp questions in Denmark about the role played by these Danish Muslim delegations that made repeated trips to the Middle East late last year. There have been still sharper questions about the 43 page dossier on "Danish racism and Islamophobia" they carried with them, in meetings with scholars, officials of the Arab League and senior clerics in Cairo and Beirut.

The delegations were publicly criticised by the Danish prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who said he was "speechless" that his fellow countrymen could tour the Arab world "inciting antipathy towards Denmark".

Above all, there have been serious concerns about three mysterious cartoons that were included in the dossier, in addition to the 12 images that started the row when they were published by a Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, in September.

The extra cartoons, whose origins remain obscure, included an image of Mohammed with a pig's snout, one of a dog raping a praying Muslim, and one depicting Mohammed as a "Paedophile demon".

As I report in today's Daily Telegraph, several media organisations, some in the Arab world but also including the BBC and the Australian SBS television network, have mistakenly reported that the pig-snouted cartoon was one of those published in "Jyllands-Posten."

Ah so. There it is. What is sold to the West is a different story when it's sold to the insular Ummah. Arafat style.

I'm with Ayaan Hirsi Ali (check out her blog, fantastic), a hero of mine:

SPIEGEL: Was apologizing for the cartoons the wrong thing to do?

Hirsi Ali: Once again, the West pursued the principle of turning first one cheek, then the other. In fact, it's already a tradition. In 1980, privately owned British broadcaster ITV aired a documentary about the stoning of a Saudi Arabian princess who had allegedly committed adultery. The government in Riyadh intervened and the British government issued an apology. We saw the same kowtowing response in 1987 when (Dutch comedian) Rudi Carrell derided (Iranian revolutionary leader) Ayatollah Khomeini in a comedy skit (that was aired on German television). In 2000, a play about the youngest wife of the Prophet Mohammed, titled "Aisha," was cancelled before it ever opened in Rotterdam. Then there was the van Gogh murder and now the cartoons. We are constantly apologizing, and we don't notice how much abuse we're taking. Meanwhile, the other side doesn't give an inch.

SPIEGEL: What should the appropriate European response look like?

Hirsi Ali: There should be solidarity. The cartoons should be displayed everywhere. After all, the Arabs can't boycott goods from every country. They're far too dependent on imports. And Scandinavian companies should be compensated for their losses. Freedom of speech should at least be worth that much to us.

SPIEGEL: But Muslims, like any religious community, should also be able to protect themselves against slander and insult.

Hirsi Ali: That's exactly the reflex I was just talking about: offering the other cheek. Not a day passes, in Europe and elsewhere, when radical imams aren't preaching hatred in their mosques. They call Jews and Christians inferior, and we say they're just exercising their freedom of speech. When will the Europeans realize that the Islamists don't allow their critics the same right? After the West prostrates itself, they'll be more than happy to say that Allah has made the infidels spineless.

I agree with Ibn Warraq in a recent Spiegel Online:

How can we expect immigrants to integrate into western society when they are at the same time being taught that the west is decadent, a den of iniquity, the source of all evil, racist, imperialist and to be despised? Why should they, in the words of the African-American writer James Baldwin, want to integrate into a sinking ship? Why do they all want to immigrate to the west and not Saudi Arabia? They should be taught about the centuries of struggle that resulted in the freedoms that they and everyone else for that matter, cherish, enjoy, and avail themselves of; of the individuals and groups who fought for these freedoms and who are despised and forgotten today; the freedoms that the much of the rest of world envies, admires and tries to emulate." When the Chinese students cried and died for democracy in Tiananmen Square (in 1989) , they brought with them not representations of Confucius or Buddha but a model of the Statue of Liberty."

Freedom of expression is our western heritage and we must defend it or it will die from totalitarian attacks. It is also much needed in the Islamic world. By defending our values, we are teaching the Islamic world a valuable lesson, we are helping them by submitting their cherished traditions to Enlightenment values.

Freedom and the concept of an objective right and wrong are the defining ideas of the West, the Judeo-Christian turn in the world that moved us out of the tribal, patriarchal honor/shame societies that placed a premium on "face". Hardwired to this is the value of the individual over the group... the bane of those atavistics among us who prefer to go down fighting... killing, to preserve the dominance of whoever is strongest enough to call themselves our boss.

So far, only the newsweeklies have stepped up and published these images, here:

PARIS (Reuters) - A French satirical weekly reprinted cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad on Wednesday and published one of its own on its front page, further angering Muslim groups which say the caricatures are blasphemous.

French Muslim organizations tried to prevent Charlie Hebdo reprinting the 12 cartoons, which were first published by the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten, but a court rejected their suit on Tuesday on a technicality.

President Jacques Chirac condemned "overt provocations" which could enflame passions, but did not name Charlie Hebdo in his latest appeal for restraint in a dispute that has triggered violent protests across the Muslim world.

Charlie Hebdo carried the new cartoon on its front page, depicting the Prophet Mohammad burying his face in his hands and saying: "It's hard to be loved by fools".

charlie hebdo2.jpg
Funny name for a paper: Charlie Hebdo. I wikipedia. Picture from Gateway Pundit (check out the link).

...and here:
* Four top editors at the New York Press, a weekly in New York City, resigned Tuesday after being ordered, they claim, to pull the Danish cartoons -- from an issue that centers on the dispute. Editor in chief Harry Siegel charged that the Press leadership "has suborned its own professed principles. For all the talk of freedom of speech, only the New York Sun locally and two other papers nationally have mustered the minimal courage needed to print simple and not especially offensive editorial cartoons that have been used as a pretext for great and greatly menacing violence directed against journalists, cartoonists, humanitarian aid workers, diplomats and others who represent the basic values and obligations of Western civilization."

Oh yea, plus the New York Sun and a couple of others nationwide.

And finally (there is so much out there and so many more connections to draw!), it's worth remembering the words of the Jordanian editor who lost his job (among many others in the EU) for publishing these images:

Jordanian independent tabloid al-Shihan reprinted three of the cartoons on Thursday, saying people should know what they were protesting about, AFP news agency reports.

"Muslims of the world be reasonable," wrote editor Jihad Momani.

"What brings more prejudice against Islam, these caricatures or pictures of a hostage-taker slashing the throat of his victim in front of the cameras or a suicide bomber who blows himself up during a wedding ceremony in Amman?"

It's too bad this guy is in jail now. The Jordanian police took him into custody:
Reporters Without Borders called for the immediate release of Jihad Momani, who was arrested in Amman on the orders of public prosecutor Saber al-Rawashdeh today, two days after being fired from his job as editor of the weekly Shihan for reprinting some of the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that have triggered an outcry in the Muslim world.

?We already objected to Momani?s dismissal, but his arrest is utterly unacceptable,? Reporters Without Borders said. ?He was just doing his job when he chose to reprint some of the controversial cartoons, as have dozens of other publications throughout the world. Imprisoning him for an editorial decision is totally unjustified.?

The guy named to replace him has resigned. I wonder if King Hussein and President Bush talked about this during their visit today?

And finally, a cherry atop this ice cream sundae of fear and coersion:
I guess it had to happen, an incursion into the issue by our artworld. I guess Damien Hirst is well branded. The BBC reports:

The mayor of Middelkerke, Michel Landuyt, said the work could "shock people", including Muslims.

He said he decided to ban Czech artist David Cerny's sculpture before the row over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

The Saddam piece, which echoes British artist Damien Hirst's famous shark suspended in formaldehyde, was first shown in Prague last September.

'Too shocking'

But Mr Landuyt felt its exhibition would be too much for the small Belgian seaside town. "In my view, it was too shocking," he said.

"They wanted to put this piece in a location where many children come, so that couldn't be allowed," he told the BBC.

He added that the work was now going to be displayed in a museum in the Belgian city of Ostend.

"When you go to a museum and are prepared to see those things and there is an explanation, perhaps there is no problem. But when you come somewhere where you don't expect that, it can be a problem," he said.

Mr Cerny is an anti-conformist artist. His previous works have included a man hanging from a pole using just one hand, a series of "kits" including one of Jesus, and a pair of naked bronze figures urinating into a pond.

An anti-comformist artist.



It's probably best to clip this one off right here before we slide down the slippery slopes of "transgression in art history", a humongous topic. Andre Serrano beckons from my grad skoolm daze, compelling, commanding me to make this post a doubledoubleplusgood one.


The upshot is that a line is being drawn. Distinctions are being made. The violence pegged to the cartoons is a message addressed primarily to the ummah. Which side will they choose? Freedom or slavery? The same line is being drawn at out feet here in the West as well.


I... must... resist... expanding this topic, slave to blogging that I am.

(I'm free!)

(All twelve cartoon images from StrategyPage)

Posted by Dennis at 2:58 PM | Comments (0)



Posted by Dennis at 7:04 AM | Comments (0)

February 7, 2006

Admin/MailCall/Chris Ashley

Chris Ashley rubs it in:



I was just reading Chrisophter Knight's review of the
Dave Hickey curated "Step Into Liquid" that closed
Jan. 28 at Ben Maltz Gallery, Otis College (James
Hayward, Jane Callister, Pia Fries, Michael Reafsnyder
and David Reed), and it seems to me that your work
would've been a perfect addition to that show
Did you see the show?

Quick technical question- I'm beginning some new work
on clear acrylic-primed linen, and your post from
yesterday caught my eye when you mention, "matt
medium. Three coats..." Just curious- what brand?
mixed with water? applyied with anything besides a

Thanks and cheers,


Thanks for asking, Chris. (A Jack Benny roll of the eyes.)

(beat, one... two... three...)

I didn't see the show, but I blogged it.

(rim shot)

(adjust the dinner tuxedo tie to studio audience applause)

Or... I blogged Christopher Knight's review of it that is.

I had self flagellated then... if I may say... exquisitely... in that post. Light whips of the instrument. Enough to raise welts in my honor, but not enough for blood to flow -in true proportion to the infraction.

Dropping a few kilos of the protective ironic humor, let me bring on a little blood:


I do feel bad to have missed the show. No excuse will do. I dropped the ball. I haven't data mined the LA art scene as I art-professionally should.

Michael Reaffsnyder is a friend and we have traded paintings together. Dave Hickey is fantastic. I think he's brilliant and I enjoy his writing a great deal. I remember his apparent swan song for fiction: "Prior Convictions" and and I think about it often. I feel a kinship with him and his wife Libby Lumpkin, especially that they are Las Vegans. (Las Vegas is functionally, my home town, having gone there for high school.) Jimmy Hayward is a great guy and great painter. A bit loco, he's a fantastic story-teller out of the Church of Bukowski (since reformed). I feel a kinship with his paintings, especially with the tendril physicality of his brush work. It was proper and well overdue that Knight had recognised his work in that review. Pia Fries is a friend and she has been to my studio several years ago. I knew long ago that we are working in similar territory in painting, I vividly remember seeing her work at the Cologne art fair for the first time several years ago. I look eagerly for what she does next. David Reed, I've met once briefly in ChinaTown. He seemed very genial, open and positive. One of my fruits plucked in grad school was a referential familiarity with his paintings. That leaves Jane Callister. I would have welcomed the chance to meet her and see her work in the flesh.

They all deserve better than my forgetfullness.

I'll to strive to be better.

(session over)

Oh yea. And should have I been included? I see what you mean. But every list has a limit, one of the important defining aspects of art. There's a sea of actors and the spotlight is so small.* However, that's the way the ball bounced and if that's the way the ball bounces (meaning: whether one is ultimately included in the list or not)... well, that's got to be alright too. I wish I could refer you to an old Hickey essay that is surfacing in my head: his argument about the anxiety of inclusion in a social scene was that one sould be more preoccupied with having one's own "cool" party than wishing one were invited to another "cool" party elsewhere. So, it's best to keep on truckin'.

(This anxiety of inclusion thing deserves a blogpost of it's own.)

Tech Answer: I use Golden's or Roark Brand acryllic clear matt medium. Expensive stuff. I don't mix with water to keep the molecules fat and strong. The last blogpost notes the hazardous change from brush to roller and I'm all nervous about it. I'll probably roll an additional coat to guard against seepage.

Thanks for asking, Chris!

ps: Regarding your feb. 3 blogpostt, I liked Christopher Alexander's Pattern Language very much as an undergrad. Powerful stuff.

*The saving grace is that the spotlight moves and the marquee ultimately has to change.

Posted by Dennis at 1:25 PM | Comments (0)


Funny things are happening with the blog. Thre previous post was cut mid sentence.

I'm trying to figure it out.

Next to painting, I'd rather be blogging.


UPDATE: Ah yes, operator errror. Whew. I had thought for a moment that this blog be broke.

Posted by Dennis at 11:45 AM | Comments (0)


Bart suggested that I roll the matt medium onto the panels rather than the usual handiwork I do with a brush. I like to see the fabric and I don't like the quality of gesso as an initial condition... unless it is mixed with marble dust and sanded in many layers by careful loving hands. For days.

So a roll of the clear acrylc medium is a roll of the dice too. The last time that I had veered from my usual prepratory routine, the oil seeped into the weave of the linen and altered greatly a very fine painting. (It's still a sucessful painting though.)

I know that paint will continue to change after I apply the last touch. Paint will contract and consolidate for a time as it dries. Surface features that might be faintly seen in fresh paint will usually become more pronounced, sharp and decidedly more visual in a drier painting. Generally, I just don't want the changes to get all crazy, or at least crazier than I intend.

Of course, there is the fine example of Sigmar Polke, who went all Ryman-like with resin soaked fabric over stretcher bars. See thru. I note Ryman because the whole of the physicality of the painting can be seen as to be equal to the status that pigment has on the surface of painting. For both of them, stretcher bars were on the pallette too.

Posted by Dennis at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)

Nice Guys Finish Last

This morning's perusal of Arts and Letter's Daily (a link I've lost in the hub bub of lost data -bookmarks- several months ago) reveals a deep well of gems. This one in particular reminds me of an abiding thought that I have been tending that history (and I extend this to art history) is a collection of stories of people behaving badly. Think about it. The Bible is chock-a-block with this stuff. Thucydides wouldn't be who he is/was if it weren't for the knuckleheads in Sparta. I read Plutarch's Lives of Alexander as a kid, talk about high jinks back in the day. (And today. I remember thinking how people haven't changed a bit since 300 B.C.). Ditto, Salinger's Holden Caulfield. A list would go on and on.

So, imagine my delight as I clicked on this link:

Michael Dirda
An acclaimed Spanish novelist offers quirky portraits of famous writers.
By Michael Dirda
Sunday, February 5, 2006; BW15


By Javier Mar?as

Translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa

New Directions. 200 pp. $22.95

It's difficult to be moderate about the charm of these brief portraits of Rimbaud, Turgenev, Rilke, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, Robert Louis Stevenson, Isak Dinesen, Djuna Barnes and a dozen other literary eminences. "The one thing that leaps out when you read about these authors," writes the acclaimed Spanish novelist Javier Mar?as, "is that they were all fairly disastrous individuals; and although they were probably no more so than anyone else whose life we know about, their example is hardly likely to lure one along the path of letters." That wry sense of amusement characterizes Mar?as's approach. Though he acknowledges the artistic greatness of his chosen writers, he prefers to point out and relish their personal oddities, all those quirks, eccentricities and obsessions that make them neurotically and sometimes pitiably human.

Note too, that the reviewer, Michael Dirda, is a Spanaird. This compelled me to Google (damn them for letting China off he hook recently) the term "picaro", which led me to this rich link (8 pages, I'm so excited).

I'm fingering my "One-Click" Amazon button. Then, I came across this paragraph which makes me think of the act of blogging itself:

The chapter on the self-important Mann is a comic masterpiece:

"Any writer who leaves behind him sealed envelopes not to be opened until long after his death is clearly convinced of his own immense importance, as tends to be confirmed when, after all that patient waiting, the wretched, disappointing envelopes are finally opened. In the case of Mann and his diaries, what strikes one most is that he obviously felt that absolutely everything that happened to him was worthy of being recorded. . . . [The diaries] give the impression that Mann was thinking ahead to a studious future which would exclaim after each entry: 'Good heavens, so that was the day when the Great Man wrote such and such a page of The Holy Sinner and then, the following night, read some verses by Heine, that is so revealing!' "


Well. I've always said that temerity is an occupational hazard for the creative types.

Posted by Dennis at 6:52 AM | Comments (0)

February 6, 2006



Now, to seal them all with matt medium. Three coats.

It'll be good to transform this place from a woodshop into a painting studio again.

Posted by Dennis at 5:41 PM | Comments (0)


I'm tumbling through the making of these panels. There'll be time to blog as I seal them with matt medium. There's a ton of blogstuff planned and I hope to express them from the blogsac forthwith.

And in the meanwhile, I've been keeping an eye on the cartoon controversy.


Ahora, bad cloud is passing over Chinatown, MGM-like.

Head down, back to work.

Posted by Dennis at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)

February 5, 2006



Posted by Dennis at 6:48 PM | Comments (0)

February 3, 2006


A week of woodwork: fifteen panels of different dimensions.

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