Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus

Posted Posted in acting, art, artsy fartsy, costume, fashion, portland

Recently Tivo recorded a film for me based on my interest in art stuff and Robert Downey, Jr., and so I watched a movie I’d never heard of called “Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus. The main message that I took away from this film, loosely based on a book based on a rumor based on the photographer’s life, is

Q: How can one discover one’s own artistic voice and vision?

A. To truly discover oneself as an artist, but one must first befriend, fully shave, make love to, bear witness to the suicide of, and then wear a coat made from the hair of, a dog-faced boy.

Q. Do you mean that metaphorically? Like, broaden your horizons?

A. No. I mean it literally. Go find yourself a dog-faced boy.

Q. Okay…thanks.

It was weird, and coming from me that’s saying a lot.

Artsy Fartsy Hirsty Wursty

Posted Posted in art, artsy fartsy, portland

A Damien “Drugs and Animals” Hirst exhibit finally got me out to the Portland Art Museum’s modern art branch. The new branch in the Jubitz center (Paid for by the people who brought you The World’s Classiest Truck Stop!)   The new branch was really nice, with four floors of nice assortment of famous and less-famous artists. It’s great to have some sort of contemporary art wing to the sometimes fusty and overly local older museum.

Once I had enjoyed Oldenberg’s giant, breathing icepack (later visited its brother in the lobby of Cedars-Sinai hospital), a nice assortment of Duchamp stuff, and the Longo crawling-drowning-yuppie sculpture, I made it to the top floor. I was mildly disappointed at the number, but what they lacked in quantity, they made up for in size. Two of them were giant, one Pharmacy installation and a glass display of many, many animal skeletons. The other two pieces were a drug-spot painting and the above painting of sliced brains that looked a lot like homemade seitan.

“But for me, from my point of view, I don’t mind if it falls over… if you break the glass you replace the glass, if the sheep falls out you can always get a new sheep.” – Damien Hirst

It’s good for me to go to the museum, not only because I love art, but it’s also a helpful reminder of how tired my whole nosering-and-glasses, bob-haircut, art-chick schtick is. It’s like coming to the place in Battlestar Galactica where all your identical Cylons live.

Update: I was oddly excited to see the Away from the Flock at the Broad this week.  He’s beautiful and sad and it’s like meeting a celebrity who is also a dead lamb in formaldehyde.

Crispin Lovers

Posted Posted in art, artsy fartsy, comedy

Crispin Glover was in town at the Clinton Street Theatre last weekend, presenting the oddest film I’ve seen for awhile, called “What is It?” It deals with Crispin’s rejection of the censorship involved in corporate backing, and his continuing interest in the “aesthetic of discomfort.” Almost all of the actors in the film have Down’s Syndrome, and although both Shirley Temple and a minstrel performer are in it, there is zero tap dancing, which I consider a tease. Crispin is on tour presenting his movie, which for various reasons is unreleasable, alongside his slide show presentations and readings from some of his books.

The evening started oddly when Crispin headed out onto the stage and immediately fell off the one-foot drop at the Clinton Street, hard. The audience held its breath, but when the actor sprung up and started reading from Ratcatching, we laughed in relief that he had executed a pratfall. Later, when he told us that he had really fallen and hurt his elbow, we felt badly. We didn’t know any better. We’re just an audience.

All in all, it was kind of nice being in a small room with Crispin and letting him make a world. He’s interested in Victorian novels, cut-ups, madness, films, sex, and animal skinning. Here’s a reading from the event from an unpublished book, Round My House.

For no reason, I’d like to point out one of my favorite Crispin trivia facts- He was George McFly in the first Back to the Future movie, but declined to be in the rest of the series. When the director opted to make up another actor in prosthetics to imitate the appearance of the original George, Crispin successfully sued for trademark violation. No matter what the pod people think, you can’t steal another person’s face without their permission, both written and verbal.

Ground Control To Capsule Toys

Posted Posted in artsy fartsy, comedy, fashion, travel, trivia

Modern postscript: Please thank my 2006 Sony Clie for these crappy photos!  I loved that thing.  Maybe as much as I love my Iphone.

Here is the bank of capsule toy machines in Singapore, with a child pretending to fight a cutout robot. They are the sophisticated, collectible cousins of the machines that sell useless crap in American supermarkets. The uselessness of the toys is not different, nor their inevitable fate as something unpleasant to step on in the dark, but the marketing and interest is much different. There are some “rare” toys that are more desirable, and entire sets can be bought at stores at huge markups, just to keep from having to pump dollar coins into the machines. There is a large box next to the arcade of toy machines to collect empty capsules for reuse. Here are some of the most special displays.

Sure, every kid wants a trinket of Dig Dug, a game from when his parents were in elementary school.

How can you think that the sound of a dog barking is How How?” This is one of the capsule toys that doubles as a cell-phone trinket, for the 8 year old that wants to distinguish himself apart from just having a Nelly ringtone.

Please note some of the things the frogs say as they are driving their vehicles: “I love surfing!” and “I am No. 1!” That’s what it is to be an American.

Why would a child want an automatically sliced wooly Mammoth steak?

A capsule machine from my favorite weird Sanrio imitator, San-X. That bunny is also a mummy, or possibly he’s just horribly injured.

This one is a panda machine operated by another, tiny panda, and it reads “Let’s try to find our future!” If my future involves evil dual Panda overlords, I don’t want to find it.

Little boys still like sex, right?

When lucky dragons attack! Holy Shit!

Step right up and get your Golden Dinosaur!

Jack Skellington’s career keeps on going in Asia, just like Roy Clark’s does in Branson, MO.

This one was so mysterious that I had to plunk three dollar coins in. What was it? Am I really gonna get a hunched-over, vomiting cellphone charm?

And that’s exactly what I got. This one is vomiting up a tiny Flying V guitar, which makes him the “Rock” Hackman. If you are what you eat, surely you are what you later vomit up.

Bizarre small-world postscript: A friend was in Tokyo a week later, and met Hackman’s designer, who sent me another a Hackman capsule. She explained that Hackman comes in twos, because when you are sick, your friend will come to your aid.


Laurie Anderson at PICA’s TBA

Posted Posted in art, artsy fartsy, music, portland

I am looking forward to seeing the Queen of Performance Art and half of the Coolest New York Downtown Couple, a Laurie Anderson,  performing in Portland tonight as part of  PICA’s TBA festival.  I have been a fan of hers since before I knew who she was, after I caught the last third of a performance of “Babydoll” on SNL in 1986, and carried the voice around in my head for two years until I was at a friend’s house listening to “Sharkey’s Day” from “Mister Heartbreak.” I met her once in Houston, TX, in 1992 at a pro-Dem art event, where she sat coolly on a picnic blanket in a baseball cap and I gibbered to her like an idiot.

And yet, I wouldn’t give a rat’s ass about meeting Paris Hilton.

P.S. It was a lovely show! Spouse was surprised that we were on the front row, because evidently did not understand the level of my Laurie worship and ninja ticket-buying skills. She has stripped down from previous shows to storytelling and violin playing, with a minimum of extra clutter. She dressed like a little Buddhist monk and told stories about her stint as N.A.S.A.’s first (and last) artist in residence, and about the 10 day walks she’s taken with her rat terrier, and about space and time and nature and owls and Thomas Pynchon.

Gothic Lolita Theory, 1st Semester

Posted Posted in artsy fartsy, costume, halloween, music, portland
Lolita Background

I have an unreasonable interest in the Japanese Lolita cosplay subculture.

Whether the Japanese girls are dressed as little maids, little vampires, Victorian baby dolls, or a maid who is for some reason dead, it makes me smile. I had to stop buying the Gothic Lolita bibles after the fifteenth, because I ran out of bookshelf space. I like watching trends run through Lolita-land in Harajuku. One Summer, inexplicably, everyone had a bloody eyepatch, like the dolls had a fight.

I made a Lolita dress for myself two years ago, and I am still waiting for an event where a six-foot tall Western lolita might be appropriate.

Strawberry Switchblade

Last year, I wanted to do Strawberry Switchblade with my extremely easy-going spouse. I don’t think there’s another hetero male in the world that would agree to dressing as half of a defunct Scottish girl-group. Here’s my initial sketch and a reference picture-

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Strawberry Switchblade

Strawberry Switchblade were an adorable Scottish pop duo who had a hit with “Since Yesterday”, and later a minor ripple with a cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.”

They were best friends who later split up messily. Rose McDowall went on to work with Death in June, Coil, Current 93, Nurse with Wound and Psychic TV. I think that Jill is driving a cab in Glasgow.

Here’s how our costumes turned out:

During my research, I noticed that there were a lot of photos of Strawberry Switchblade touring Japan in the early 1980’s. I also found a pic of an early Visual Kei group, Velvet Eden, that used to dress as Strawberry Switchblade, and covered their songs. Half the group, a drag artist named Dada, is also involved with/models for Lolita clothes label Arachnophobia. Which brings us to the question: was anyone dressing like a doll who was not first into Strawberry Switchblade?

What does it all mean? Did Strawberry Switchblade invent Gothic Lolita?

If A Double-Decker Bus

Posted Posted in artsy fartsy, music, portland

  Spouse had an exciting Johnny Marr sighting last week at his place of work: He was purchasing an XTC record.

Today was even more exciting when Spouse was driving down a major street and stopped short at a door swung open on a red Mustang, and found that he had almost killed Johnny Marr, the king of jangly, layered guitar. I’m really glad he didn’t.

Post 2: I’ve decided I’m going to keep all my nerdy Marr sightings here.  In the Spring of 2009, I got a call that Johnny Marr was at Nike, visiting shoe overlord Parker Green.  I was so excited, I hid in a cubicle and took very bad pictures with my phone.  He was travelling with his kids, who also got shoes, and as he walked out (towered by his children) a woman asked “Who’s that?  Is that the Jonas’ brother’s dad?”  Yes, that’s who it is.  It’s funny working somewhere that Kobe Bryant and Lebron and Michael Jordan regularly show up, but I don’t care until Johnny Marr appears, and then nobody else pays notice.

Dec 2010- I made plans for the Helium open mike with Stacey Hallal, picked up spouse at Crossroads records for dinner, and suddenly in walks the mushroom haircut of the Marr.  I froze like a rabbit in the path of a freight train.  I had to move away from him so that I would not start blathering smart-sounding dumb things about music.  He talked to Spouse about a record he was looking for, and that he had been working on soundtracks.  Spouse said, oh, how do you find that?  and Johnny said, well, you know I did the Inception soundtrack, and that went alright.