if you're wondering...
why there are no photographs of the new apartment...it's because my internet access is being hijacked at the crossroads by France Telecom (read rant in earlier weeks). of course it's easy to just take some on put little SD disk into someone else's mac, but too lazy for that. so don't bug me about the photos...you'll see them already. anyways, if scooby, or any other french friend had blogs, my description could be corroborated by them...but frenchies don't seem to blog.
and, after blurry good night with Herbie last Thursday, have resolved to put together pilot of new tv serial, which will earn mucho deniros and financially justify my sociopathic leanings. Herbie is very best, especially after draining last drop of whiskey bottle into my glass.
and, just to pack in one last nonsensical comment, made really great chocolate cake the other day, after roasting a perfect chicken. Went to market this morning and spent 10Eu, buying 2kg of potatoes, 5 glorious carrots, 2 giant onions, 4 baby courgettes, 1 head of rose garlic, 4 lieu noir steaks, 12 eggs, some plums, a bunch of fresh coriander, 3 cucumbers, 2kg of tomatoes, 3 red peppers, 2 juicy lemons, and a slice of pumpkin. Belleville market is wonderful and I am becoming master chef...can live off of this for next 5 or 6 days. tonight I will steam the fish, with shavings of ginger, and top it with caramelized vinegar onions, sided with potato salad and some buttery steamed courgette. Sunday is Place des Fetes market, where one can get 3 kilos of girolles for 4Eu. Will also lay my hands on some salt cod so I can make chowder...it's starting to look like autumn light.
I don't know why I started thinking about this out of the blue...I think I was looking at an offer for digital photo prints (100 for 12Eu) that I suddenly remembered a very strange and touching moment that happened awhile back at my old school.
In my old photo school, many a student was tempted into a fine display of emotional fireworks during their critiques. It's a probable defense against any reasonable critique, to burst out into tears and talk about family members, either dead, or far away, while gesturing at funny fuzzy cutouts of old family heirlooms. One had the impression that early twenty-something photo artists were all obsessed with their grandparents. I suppose that to be a photographer, you have to be naturally nostalgic, but the number of boohoohoos at each oral examination was a bit suspect.
So, by the third year, after a series of critiques that presented, in no order, a series on the Holocaust, girlhood high school trauma, and various other regular players in the 'I'm traumatized therefore my art is important', we came to Frances.
Frances was as close to being invisible as one can be. She wore greys and blacks, barely spoke to anyone, and made work that was, for the most part, marked by lack of content and aesthetic pleasure. Her hair was helmet shaped. It was clear that she had sexual issues that were repressed but that's hardly an issue in the artworld. After all, if you don't have a penetration issue in art, most of your work will leave only a superficial impression.
Frances presented a series of black and white prints against colour: she juxtaposed photographs of herself with her family members, against photographs of her one-person apartment. It's a simple concept. But it was shocking to see the loneliness laid bare. It's hard to describe the emotional impact but it was there, and that was all. During her speech she was, as usual, almost speechless. But, in the midst of her stony impression, she suddenly cracked, and wept like a baby. They were real tears of sorrow and loneliness, almost desperate, and yet we all stood before her, all of us strangers in all ways possible. They were the type of real tears which rebuke false comfort. She had no friends at school.
After the critique, some of us tried to speak to her, and many of us spoke of her. But, in the end, after a couple of hours, we became obsessed with all the old rivalries, of which she had no part.
It made me think, recently, that there are people in tv serials, who walk around as extras. They have no story. We're not interested in knowing their story. They're like moving furniture. It's neither sad nor happy. It's like an egg that sits in the back of the fridge while you're reaching for the milk.
Frances is moving furniture. In some very remote universe she has a speaking part, but for the life of me, it's hard to see into this universe. It's not sad when I think about it clearly...it's weird to be faced with someone's humanity for a couple of moments, and then watch it be erased all over again. Deep down, there are very very few things in this world people can't get over.
just had rather annoying email by old friend that asked me why I write my blog under a pseudonym, and why I don't show my photos.
1. Honesty is hardly the point of my blog. People who already know me know my style of bitching and all my nefarious stomach-related schemes, and get a short laugh out of my malcontent. People who don't know me won't have to pretend they know me just because they can read my fucking name.
2. I don't believe that attaching my real name will make this blog any more or less truthful. A personal testimony can neither be verified absolutely, not can it be contradicted. Anyways, most of the time, reading truths transforms people into false actors...they think they've already investigated the issue because someone else did, or that they did something heroic and meaningful just because they read about it. Anyone who believes in the idea of truth in testimony is fucked.
3. Pen names are stupid and fun, and prevent your professional worklife from being associated with private vicious musings. I mean, would you invite your boss to all your private shin-digs? If so, please write me for a menial job so that I can be YOUR BOSS.
anyways...it's a shame that people think inventing a name is just a way to create anonymity. I like to think of it as an alternate personality...like an instant personality makeover. after all, now that I am the NARDAC, I have responsibilities to my new self...I have to feed my menagerie of lintballs and get them multiple jobs, eat cheese at odd hours, and cross my hands to talk about international politics....it never ends.
mister night, get over yourself already
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
went to see new m. night shamalam film, the village, after scooby proposed that we take advantage of paris 3eu film fiesta. first american blockbuster seen since Honey, which managed to suck and be awesome all at once, and have come to conclusion that maybe blockbusters are really really shitty and rotting brain, and that even counter-culture gems are still imbued with the evil sin of having explain even their misty magic realism. Still love Bring It On and Clueless for at least being so incredibly well written, but am convinced that the hollywood genre of the dramatic film is making us into puerile false-emotive doldoids.
the village, like every mister night film, has a little twist at the end, and this one, like all his other twists, is strangely predictable, moralistic and irritating. I have the indelible impression that this guy fancies himself to be a bit of a genius, and can't help smiling smugly in the mirror, as he writes his name once more over the credits, and waits eternally for his oscar (speech written before Haley Joel got out of his bedwetting pants).
it's not to say that the village is not all at once a film without merit. The story itself is quite intriguing and luscious, like its overripe female leads. The visual are startling, and at times glorious. mister night makes several overt quotations on painting, rembrandt like lighting, medieval window-pane framing (adrien brody does incredible grotesque gargoyle imitation in that scene)...incredibly simple and almost japanese watercolour scene shot at night against mist on a porch. And the monster, with it's little red hood, evoking our little childhood memories of a certain red riding hood.
but the language is (deliberately) laughable at points, which seems appropriate in certain scenes, and chokingly bad in others...never got over the idea that sigourney weaver couldn't stop laughing during the filming.
it's really the end, like all of his films, that ruins it for me. He can't help himself...he has to explain the mystery, in crude and butcher knife way...and then everybody stands up in strange broadway finale chorus, like he couldn't figure out how else to end the film. And who cares? After we're blown away by the sheer audacity and calculation behind such a scheme, what's left is the same lord of the flies kohlanta like enthusiasm...so that's the scenario, and so??? people who were rich enough to hide out from the world...crazy koresh-like gated community. blah, sounds like another tabloid to me.
mister night has sooo many virtues, and such a wild imagination that it seems a shame that he can't just get a hold of himself at the end and stop trying to prove he's so wise already. in the end, I almost wished I'd gone to see Spiderman 2 again. almost, except that I still really love this kind of pseudo pioneer haunted mumbo jumbo enough to watch the film again, and walk out when she starts to climb the wall.
liver liver liver....YUM
after very exhausting day trying to get groceries in order (the market at the foot of the street is the historic belleville market, famous for being cheap cheap), I treated myself to a little trip to the butcher near gambetta. I've been zipping by this guy everyday on the path to the metro (if my language is monkey in this blog it's because I'm using a keypad that misses a functional w key...made with paste fn...gad, need my mac back), and he's next to a place that sells cheeses and eggs, and a traiteur serving ready to boil italian goodies (like ravioli and...ravioli...). Needless to say, those three little shops make my stomach rebellious. So, today, pinching pennies on the food for the last seven days, I caved and bought myself a slice of fresh veal liver.
veal liver, like all other kinds of liver, is one of those culinary subjects, like broccoli, that install loving glinting eyes, filled with gentle memories rich in iron, or unabashed puking motions. and, yes, veal is one of those meats that the most conscientious among us gluttons has come to label as a meat produced under particularly malicious conditions. It's a young ox, restrained from ample movement, fed on fattening morsels, until its young life is cut before it matures as an adult. having already chugged "fast food nation" many many times, I am conscious of the sins of the current industrialized meat industry. This butcher looks to get its meat from particularly upright establishments...but still, I take responsibility for the fact that my animal was stuffed full of food, locked up in a box, and then slaughtered, with hardly a moment for bucolic poetry. The only hope I have is that the young ox managed to benefit from reasonable standards in grazing material, and that the slaughter was humane and sanitary (my hope).
even aside from moral issues, the notion of eating liver is not fun fun funny in the diet of most people I know. the dacnar himself refuses to touch the stuff. no wonder...most people either overcook liver (turning it into shoe rubber) or they forget to get rid of all the little tendons and blood vessels, that can make liver a nervy issue. bleah, remember eating liver once in roadside restaurant and had to leave most of it behind, sweltering in its dry graininess.
myself, having the privilege and honour of being raised in a house that ate varied and well, despite budgetary limitations, I have had nothing but good childhood memories of eating liver. My mother, house master of yin and yang cantonese cooking, taught me early the difference of heating and cooling foods, how to mix them according to the body, and how to eat certain things at various times of the year and month. Liver is rich, very heating, and should be eaten with neutral or cooling foods. She always made her liver the same way, fried: pork liver, chinese cooking wine, scallions, garlic, ginger, white pepper, salt and sugar, a tiny bit of soy sauce. Heat the oil up on a very hot casserole, toss in a bit of ginger and garlic, then liver, salt and white pepper, a bit of soy, toss, then dump in rest of ginger and scallions and cooking wine and some sugar, toss quickly till liver looks seared on outside only, and cover with lid for casserole and take off heat, keeping cover on to finish cooking time. this is very very fast cooking, so just keep your eyes open and make sure everything is chopped and ready to go. I love that dish soooo much, and it's so tender and sweet, the richness lifted so tenderly on the elegant vapours of the ginger. just a tiny bit of steamed rice...and I'm set.
today, I made my kwai lo (gringo) version of liver...and I made it with veal liver, rich and almost fudgy. just chop up some onions, sludge your slice of liver is a bit of milk, than follow with a flour mixture (pepper, salt, flour, some dried herbs), heat up butter in oil (50/50), toss liver in when hot, throw in onions before flipping on other side, flip when crisp, and when almost done, slip in a bit of alcohol (I had mirin on hand). served with oven fries, green salad and hp sauce...fast, easy heavenly and painless, like the good death of my young ox.
Why Paula Radcliffe stopped
Monday, August 23, 2004
Because it sucks to be a loser.
But that's the beauty of the Olympics...sometimes the losers get a bigger spotlight than the winners.
Anyways, the majority of losers out there have to be indignant and irritated by her new label. Only real losers know the glowing poetry in picking the last positions in the race, and keeping those numbers filled.
France Telecom, another bad french crown company
Egads...when will the anti-french rant end. This time, I've been hijacked in fury by a ludicrously retarded phone call with burglars, otherwise known as France Telecom. And all I asked for was the friggin' bill, for christ's sakes!!!
ok, so there's this company, free.fr, which provides a nice little package, internet, telephony and television, all for the handy price of 30Eu a month. However, in order to profit from this lovely little service, you need to pay France Telecom 27EU a month, just for the privilege of using the jack. I phoned FT to demand them for a bill, so that I could go through with my contract with free.fr, and be officially connected in my new digs...however, my call was followed by insinuous questions as to why I needed a copy of my facture, followed by extorting my reply that I was going to be inscribed into free.fr, which was then proceeded with a demand for 150Eu, for the priviledge of cutting my bonds with FT. Otherwise, I would have to pay my 30Eu every month, and suck it in like a good girl...So...FT is asking me to pay the same amount as free.fr for NO SERVICE. That's extortion baby.
Then, he had the temerity to suggest that I take FT's new offer which is better than free's because I can get it in one week, instead of three...32Eu a month for internet and phone...not even bloody telephony... and I would have to pay 26 cents a minute for every call. I freaked out. I'm still freaking out. However, seeing no possible resolution to this problem, and knowing that their days are as limited as VHS, I'm happy to note that I swallowed their bitter pill for the next two months, after which my contract with free.fr will officially begin...there's no cancellation fee...then I'll pay my 150Eu, in one shot, so that I'll never have to give those leeches another penny. holy crappin silver lining in stupid ball-breaking experience.
an old english elephant
Saturday, August 21, 2004
oh, I forgot to talk about jean rochefort and his magnificent commentary on dressage. yeah, it's horses, doing funny steps, and then jumping around and over stuff. It seems to be a pretty silly sport but quite elegant. I've never really gotten the hang of it, nor felt the passion...but rochefort makes it all worthwhile (and he has quite the most dashing moustache ever, save the dacnar). He says things like "oh my children, find me a second chair, this one's fallen over...Nicolas Tousaint, the archangel of dressage."
N.B. Jean Rochefort, for anglophones, can be seen in the Lost in La Mancha, playing Don Quixote. But he's really good in "an elephant, that trumps a bit" (very stinky translation of "un elephant, ça trompe énormement") and "we're all going to paradise" (nous irons au paradis), its sequel. Rochefort is so drole, in a dry old englishman style...weird that he's actually french.
speaking of which, my imitation of the roquefort cheese is impressive too. approach someone quietly until you are nose to nose, then scream.
hey...it's olympic time, and since we only get it once every two years, it's only normal to feel the fever. the olympic fever. besides all the normal sports that we associate with the five ring brouhaha, like gymnastics, swimming and athletics, I'd like to take some time to express my admiration for several obscure sports, of which I only get to see once every four years.
first of all, fencing. the french national mens team scored an exciting and heroic victory against the over-dramatic Italians. In the semi-finals, against the american team, one of the fencers had his hand pierced...even with this, they won...even with this, he managed to score the winning touch in the finals, over a guy named Tarantino. wunderbar!!! the french sports minister, who is an old fencing champion, cried like a baby. However, have to say Montano, the italian sabre sensation, is really AWESOME. Love him.
secondly, archery. wow, who can overrate the passion and tension of the men's final, which pitted an italian dude of 21 against a japanese guy of 41. the japanese guy strutted like an ageing Jagger while the Italian guy looked like an accountant going fishing. The italian guy, under immense pressure, won. Long live the nerds.
finally, the men's road race in cycling. ( yeah yeah...big cycling fan...so I watch it several times a year) Really exciting...Ullrich never amounted to anything... and my favourite, Bettini, conquered the final climb in gorgeous fashion, to easily win the gold. He's got a really funny face that looks even goofier when it's screwed up crying. Allez BETTINI!!!!! I really like it when italians win because what ensues is a frenzy of man-kissing and tears. Lovely darling.
finally, in the cycling time trials, Tyler Hamilton won the gold. For all those not acquainted, Hamilton was the guy who broke his collarbone in the Tour de France, 2003, in the first couple of stages, but still managed to win a mountain stage and finish fourth. no guts, no glory. This year, after the death of his best friend, the golden retriever tugboat, hamilton gave up after suffering a rather superficial but incapacitating injury to his back. Hamilton has always been my emotional favourite. A man with a lot of class and a lot of drive...who understands the value of winning, but not at the cost of his team, or his scruples (unlike his Texan compatriot). I cheered for him last year at the Champs Elysees. Congratulations on gold TYLER!!!
oh, and Michael Phelps has the personality of freezer-burnt pizza dough. Thank goodness Ian Thorpe swings his hips like a fairy...otherwise why else could I think his giant feet are sexy.
Monday, August 09, 2004
for all you people who are artists, contemporary or boring old school...sorry for the evil rag the other day. hate hate hate< blah blah blah...promise to get stunning job and find more important things to say. like how nice weather is, and what lovely dishes I've eaten recently, and promising things to think about for future projects. hung over
had crazy party at scooby's last night. we ate rabbit tagine...very very good. then drank pastis till late late at night, while screaming happy jokes with dacnar, the scoobs and her boyfriend's friend, who we shall henceforth call herbie. Herbie's job is writing the joke of the day. that's what we call a good job. vaguely remember dacnar talking about fantasy wigs and know made utter fool of myself imitating self different kinds of cheeses...my comte is always a winner.
anyways, back to real life. heading back to dreary north, hopefully for the last two weeks, to pack and get everything ready for the big move to Paris. Internet access will be difficult, so hold on to your petunias. I'm dropping out for the next couple of weeks, again.
noticed that, ha ha, my blog contains minimal references to TV serials. hee hee...maybe my life is becoming less referential. Does this mean that my blog readers will be find themselves stranded? stuff-a-nonsense. prove me wrong buckos.
Sunday, August 08, 2004
realize last post was grumpier than usual...which is not to say didn't have nice week away from internet, in the middle of nowhere, drinking rose and eating pork.
went fishing at some point, caught 50 catfish, which Dacnar's mom threw into field because catfish are stinky ugly parasites (my inner child cried...though have killed many crabs without remorse, watching a fish asphyxiate is horrifying, let along 50 fish wriggling in a field). Was mildly happy to go for walks occasionally, and pick up fascinating french sport of petanque. (think bowling but you lauch the ball, and smash it on other balls...like old person version of marbles).
amidst all this, a weird story...dacnar's dad is mean trumpet player, with a red basketball head. He played a birthday party a couple of weeks ago with an accordian player named Bernard Bone (I kid you NOT). Since then Bernard, who is very very "sympa," (translate 'nice'), drops by every now and then, given that his mistress has a house down the street. While the memories rest true and golden from the eve when they played till dawn, Bernard's notorious drunkenness, and pastis mooching habits have put him on a precarious relationship with dad and mom. Soooo, on Thursday evening, when Dacnar's dad saw good old Bone pulling up the driveway, he immediately signals the red alarm, pulls open the windows, and with nary a hello says:
"hey, we've got too many people in here, go away."
"But I'm just going to hang out here, by the window."
"no no no, go away...too many people"
So Bernard shuffles along, gets into his white car, and pulls out.
Background: the Bone is in bad times...his wife won't let him go home and his mistress won't let him in without cashola. So, Bone, the 60-year old drunken accordian player, likes to stop over in the latter half of afternoons, and repeat the unholy phrase " I don't know. I just don't know" over and over, while draining pastis after pastis. It doesn't make for good company, especially since it shortens the siesta of Dacnar's dad.
Anyways, Saturday, yesterday morning, D's dad, while reading the obits, which old people develop the habit of doing (like, we google, they obit-read), comes across the following notice: Bernard Bone, deceased, August 5, funeral August 9, 66 years old, from le Mans. Is it him? We look in the grey pages and there are two B Bones, one in Chateau du Loire (the house of his mistress...he bought the house), and the one in Le Mans. Is it the same Bone? Evidence would say yes, given that we know Bone is originally from le Mans.
However, no amount of pushing gets D's dad to phone...instead, the parents occupy themselves with packing their bags for vacation (they left this morning for Bretagne), and after a couple of minutes of speculation, they issue was pushed aside for the more agreeable subject of famous lighthouses and what was for lunch.
Is Bernard Bone dead? Were we the last to see him alive, and we shooed him away? Suicide or car accident? Who will be at the funeral? don't know
If he is, tonight we play the Initials B.B. (Gainsbourg) just in case. Everyman deserves a little Bardot at his wake.
question of the day: what's my job?
and, finally coming out of strange european funk, mixed with nostalgia for native canada, and realizing have turned into lazy artist bastard, as unexpectedly as that may seem! what is the work of an artist exactly? for those of you not in the know, contemporary artists belong to a select group of people who have no exact project nor proposition, but who make a living (or try to) constructing things that nobody really knows anything about...whether it be performance, sculpture, literal, or fourth degeree, abstract, conceptual, land, photography, installation, dispositive, a maze, an apple, a pile of socks, a projection of someone talking with their eyes closed or god knows what else...people do these things, then other people talk about them, and somehow, money is exchanged...but that's rare enough. In the middle ages, they at least had the decency to execute people who pretended to be witches, "Hi, wanna watch me change lead into gold?....Eat flames flunkie!!!"
contemporary art is for losers...so call me by my first name.
at the same, being the one guilty in first degree, I would like to take this time to implicate others...people who scare me a hell of a lot more are people who are willing, in their less then fortieth year, to stand by and make the same kind of drivel that we now know to be a kind of advertising...I speak about a certain kind of photography, by virtue of employing an aesthetic that is already established (cold distant long lens, clean view, good exposure, good composition), that in fact has a content or a message that verges on someone telling me the time of day and that we see regularly being used to sell to young richies to put besides their one-step over Ikea furniture...I speak about a school of cinema that proposes to make this same kind of image, but in film, and sell the importance of culture as being the only acceptable voice of truth in our depressing artless society, long cuts, actors who anti-act, meaningful metaphors jumbled in with oh so tangible ennui...I also speak about tricky installations, where a gadget, a device, is employed, oh, you wave your hand in this space and the movement of your arm triggers a sound, your body is a breathing instrument...something that references the history of contemporary art, well, shoot me shooting me in my video of myself as a 50s icon why don't you...wow, I could go on and on...and you all wonder why I stopped buying Artforum, Art in America, Artpress...blah blah blah...I don't need to be indoctrinated into the history and culture of contemporary art anymore...if that's what I need to do to be an artist SCREW THAT!
What is the job of an artist? I have no idea...except that it exists. Somewhere, my job is to make my job, or at least to figure out what I think I can do, and try to find some sucker to pay me for it. People, like my old self, used to joke and say, well, at least we're the only free people in society because we get to do exactly what we want to do, and people will pay us for it. But, HELLO, might as well be incarnated as a lap cat.
for those not self-motivated, or passionate enough, being a contemporary artist is a pure excuse for wasting time while figuring out what to do with one's life exactly. Have had hair-brained schemes of floating madonnas, melting ice madonnas, battlestar magneticron, an image of reflection that reflects endlessly and finally mom and dad potato clocks. What that fuck is that whole mess about already? i built a telephone that's permanently broken (figuratively...literally), I wrote a screenplay about dysfunctional brothers head-fucking pigs up the bum...shit...crap...
(caveat: I like what I do...surprisingly enough...hey, laugh it up funboy, I get to play with my sangliers.)
Ok, my role as an artist was largely a vehicule to promote my own sense of importance, my 'unique' voice. But, funnily enough, everybody out there seems to have the same idea. That contemporary art is rife full of egotistical infighting, mud-slinging, and slander, among the generally mediocre self-promoters, is a fact that never ceases to depress me. the idea that people make things that they believe are original, that originality is a virtue needless to say a birthright only the stupid and blockheaded have lost, that somehow everybody has something important to say, but that nobody says anything, that the world is sentimental and people still cry when watching Titanic (wheeee!!! I'm the king of the world!!!)...what the world needs now is more artists who have the courage to laugh screamingly and pointedly at the ludicrous tragic predicament we call life, doomed as it may be. Whoever these dorks are, I'd like a rollcall someday...
I mean, if we've stopped being animals a long time ago, why is it that the fundamentals of our society is based on the animalistic law of competititon? What's the point of pretending things are getting better, or that people are supposed to be better. The result of this idiotic premise is that our athletes take more and more drugs to break records, our corporations get larger and larger, and people ressemble more and more ken and barbie, every day. As much as I always hated the crude romanticism of D.H. Lawrence, I always held on to the idea that if people were to work with purpose and dignity, with a sense that they were not building a shelter away from the world, but finding a way to include the world in every aspect of their life, (and I'm not talking about consumer choice as a way of battling corporate culture [Naomi Klein is GROSS]) blah blah blah blah...would be able to have straight not crooked necks, and not look and feel like Jabba the Hut when old....is that what we're looking for?
I don't have any answers really...
What's my job?