Archive for February, 2010

Magazines We Love: A Public Space

Published February 22, 2010 by Molly

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It’s like some essential law of nature: as long as amazing people exist, there will be amazing magazines to collect and codify their thoughts and projects. Such is A Public Space, the Brooklyn-based magazine of literature and culture founded in 2005 to bring essays and fiction and poetry of all kinds to the reading public. Issue #9 features Nicholson Baker, Ichiro Suzuki, Love Letters, The Third Street Promenade, and a whole bunch of other stuff, all wrapped up in a suavely-designed package of goodness.

Also not to miss: The magazine is hosting an event on February 21st in Santa Monica, CA featuring the great raconteur T.C. Boyle, Carla Gugino, Joel David Moore and miscellaneous performances. Start arranging your carpool!

A Short Stack Of Silly Shorts For The Morally Sidetracked

Published February 22, 2010 by Molly

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It is never too late to embrace the silly aspects of the soul. Children’s books take care of this operation when we’re young, but then you grow up and there’s a serious shortage of humor in everyday life. New Yorker cartoons on the fridge? Dilbert shorts pasted to the cluttered office bulletin board? Please! What we need is a surplus of books like Meagan Hart’s A Short Stack Of Silly Shorts For The Morally Sidetracked in our personal libraries.

Hart’s book is a potpourri of cute typography and silly stories to put a smile on even the curmudgeonliest curmudgeon of us all.

Active Child

Published February 19, 2010 by Rubin

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When I first heard Active Child’s “When Your Love Is Safe” it was a race to figure out where I could get it. Turns out Active Child is the project of Los Angeles based Pat Grossi. A wonderful mix of 80’s synth pop, with haunting and beautiful chorale vocals creating a temporary escape within an ephemeral space.

This song was released on the Sun Rooms cassette tape which came out on Mirror Universe earlier this year (which has since sold out.) Active Child just released a new 7″ single called She Was A Vision that you can check out here and I’m told there are more releases on the way.

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You can listen to more at Myspace and see him live March 9th at El Rey with Big Pink in Los Angeles and he’s performing at SxSw (probably more than once.)

William Eggleston’s Stranded in Canton

Published February 19, 2010 by Graham

Veritable patriarch of contemporary photography William Eggleston is essentially the king of color. But this feature-length film, Stranded in Canton, demonstrates just how masterful of an aesthete Eggleston is– color or no color, frozen images on film or slices of life on video tape.

Shot in the early ’70s on Sony’s revolutionary portable video recorder, Stranded in Canton is a marvel of documentary cinema. It strings together a wildly diverse set of scenes with no narrative thread to speak of, and yet leaves you with an impression of intimacy and voyeuristic thrill.

Meryl Smith

Published February 18, 2010 by Graham

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Sculptor Meryl Smith, who crafted the lovely life-sized rodents in Spike’s new short, I’m Here, and designed Opening Ceremony’s tie-in window display, is the mother for a number of other radical animal-inspired creations. Majestic deer headpieces, morbid pigskin pigs, and adorable handbag puppies gush forth from Smith’s dearly sinister imagination. She’s also responsible for a number of hilariously gruesome Halloween costumes, like her 2006 opus: Timothy Treadwell Inside of the Bear That Ate Him. Don’t miss her collaboration with Neckface and make sure to check out Todd Selby’s set of photos capturing Smith’s warmly rococo Noah’s Ark of an apartment, over at The Selby.

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Nostalgia

Published February 18, 2010 by Molly

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The word “nostalgia” is a compound from ancient Greek consisting of νόστος, or nóstos (”returning home”) and ἄλγος or álgos (”ache”). Etymologies don’t get much more beautiful than that. In 1688 a Swiss doctor identified nostalgia as a medical disease— a kind of hypochondria of the heart. For the next couple of centuries people went on suffering and being diagnosed with this beautiful disease.

A professor of Slavic languages at Harvard named Svetlana Boym spent years studying various manifestations of nostalgia, and determined that there were two distinct types of the sensation. One she called “reflective nostalgia”, which consisted of longing for the past without denying the present. The second type she called “restorative nostalgia”, which involves inventing a tradition to make the past more coherent.

We thought of these things when confronted with Hollis Brown Thornton’s work. With its circuit boards, snow monsters, and stacked VHS tapes, Thornton’s images are nothing if not material evocations of that peculiar sweet-sour nostalgia feeling. The reflective kind, to be precise.

Lucas Reiner

Published February 17, 2010 by Molly

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Trees have it rough in major metropolitan areas. There’s pollution, traffic, unfriendly elements and an often tree-indifferent population to contend with. It’s a wonder they manage, especially in Los Angeles. Lucas Reiner’s new book Los Angeles Trees is a collection of the artist’s tree portraits that feels like a cross between a yearbook, a landscape, and a metaphysical exploration of what it takes to survive in a hostile environment.

Baddies

Published February 16, 2010 by Molly

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Any kind of art that gets described as “zany” is either really good or REALLY bad. It’s one of those tricky adjectives. You have to proceed with caution when you encounter it.

Luckily! David Stromberg’s Baddies falls on the “really good” side of the zany divide. It has also been described, by everyone from the LA Times to Aimee Bender, as strange, eccentric, wonderful and darkly funny. The book reads like an especially polished sketchbook of witty cartoons and mini-narratives, some of them the visual equivalent of one-liners with Glen Baxter-ish captions like “Cosmonaut Oleg Grandolovichsky has opted not to return to the shuttle”. How droll!

Daniel Walker Live 1965

Published February 16, 2010 by Molly

We love this sweet mini-documentary about a kid recording an EP with the help (and occasional hindrance) of his friends.

Ruby and the Stone Age Diet

Published February 15, 2010 by Molly

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Martin Millar is the literary equivalent of Ralph Steadman. In a word: gonzo. His newest is the re-release of 1989’s sleek Ruby and the Stone Age Diet, published by Soft Skull Press and containing exactly 160 pages of typically madhat Millar, whom you might remember from Milk, Sulphate, and Alby Starvation, the 1987 cult classic about shady characters in Brixton.

Millar himself issued the following bulletin on his blog, regarding the re-release: I’m pleased this book is now back in print. Unlike certain other books among my backlist, which tend to make me bury my face in my hands, wailing Did I really write this?, I’ve always liked Ruby and the Stone Age Diet.

Right! Yes. If that’s not an endorsement, we’re not sure what is. Oh. Maybe this: the plot of Ruby features demons, electric guitars, Incan spirits and werewolves. And also Neil Gaiman is a fan. Yeah!