Over-sized and ambitious, both the film "Rebel Without a Cause," and Paul McCarthy and Damon McCarthy's "Rebel Dabble Babble" is a funhouse mirror ref
Over-sized and ambitious, both the film "Rebel Without a Cause," and Paul McCarthy and Damon McCarthy's "Rebel Dabble Babble" is a funhouse mirror reflection of the Nicholas Ray film. The McCarthy families take on the myths of Nick Ray, James Dean, Sal Mineo & Nathalie Wood is a combination of hysterical with a side-dish of horror. A remarkable installation piece, with projected videos and the McCarthy dad and son's take on the James Dean household (in "Rebel Without a Cause") as a magnet for violence, sexual feelings, and the structure of the family unit. I look at "Rebel Dabble Babble" as the ultimate commentary on a (weird) Hollywood film that somewhat transformed itself as an iconic work of art. The book "Rebel Dabble Babble" captures the intensity of the installation piece, but giving it much detail, due to the book format. A work of genius. ...more
Silence is golden. John Cage knew that. But also silence is not really silent. Life is noise or sounds - so his famous piece is about the mixture of sSilence is golden. John Cage knew that. But also silence is not really silent. Life is noise or sounds - so his famous piece is about the mixture of sound in a place, that occurs in a very strict time zone: four minutes and 33 seconds. Kyle Gann, a composer and Professor of Music at Bard College wrote a whole book regarding this piece by John Cage as well as its culture. It's a non-academic yet smart book about Cage and how he wrote "4'33" and what it means to the composer as well as to the world. Cage is one of the few composers, whose work goes beyond music, and into the world of philosophy. It goes beyond the five senses, and into Zen, mediation, and what is exactly 'silence' and what does that represent. It's not anti-noise or sound, but letting sound do its own thing, in that format. A fascinating book, but a fun one to read as well. Due that Cage is both serious and funny at the same time. Gann captures those moments in "4'33" and beyond. ...more
I think partly due to the deaths of David Bowie and Tony Conrad, I felt great sorrow reading this book on the artist Bas Jan Ader. I only came upon hi I think partly due to the deaths of David Bowie and Tony Conrad, I felt great sorrow reading this book on the artist Bas Jan Ader. I only came upon his work maybe 20 years ago, which is odd, because he was very much of a Los Angeles based conceptual artist. A lot of work deals with space and falling - meaning that gravity itself pulls you down. On one level, he is sort of a Buster Keaton figure, but instead of laughter, his work is profoundly sad. He has documented his "performances' in photographs as well as on video/film.
"Death is Elsewhere" is half biography and the other part is a critique of his work. It's fascinating to know about his Los Angeles existence, and how he mixed in with other artists of that time and place. He had one foot in Holland, and the other in Los Angeles. There is something very European about his work. Yet, I can see the Los Angeles side of his work as well. Place or location is always interesting or important. It is not actual locations, but the state of his mind or the state of his work and how that works within an American or Europan context. The author Alexander Dumbadze does an excellent job in placing Ader's work in the context of 1970s America as well as noting the mysterious aspect of his work. On one level, it is quite emotional, due to his death by being lost in the sea. For an art project (or was it?) he planned to take a small sailing boat from the east coast of the U.S. to Holland or Europe. Which sounds crazy, but Ader was an experienced man of the high seas, so if anyone could have done this, he could. Sadly he disappeared in the Atlantic Ocean.
What I find interesting about his work, is that it does remind me of Keaton, who I think is the great American artist of the 20th century. I don't think Ader meant to address or comment on Keaton's method of working with machine and weather / nature, but there are similarities with Ader dealing with gravity or fighting against the urge of gravity. So, that alone is quite moving - yet, we know he died a very young man, and therefore we're just capturing a moment of time of this artist. He should have a longer career or life - because the work, although it hints of failure or even death, I don't think that is what his work is really about. I think he was working on something much longer or long-term, but alas, nature took him perhaps by surprise. Fascinating critique/bio on what I think is an important artist. ...more
In my life, there is nothing better than sitting down, and reading a book by Simon Napier-Bell. He was once the manager of Marc Bolan (solo), Japan, T In my life, there is nothing better than sitting down, and reading a book by Simon Napier-Bell. He was once the manager of Marc Bolan (solo), Japan, The Yardbirds, and Wham!. He has written three books about his experience in the music business, which are three masterpieces. His humor, intelligence, and distain for the music business world is equally fantastic - and he's hysterical on top of it. His new book, "Ta-Ra-Ra- Boom-De-Ay" is very much a history of the music business with a focus on the song publishing as well as record companies and how they obtain and then lost their power. It's pretty straight forward, which is a weakness in this book. I miss the voice of Napier-Bell, yet, there are chapters that really shine. Especially the segment on the history of boy bands, which is pretty amazing. If you never read a book on music business history, this is a superb entrance to that world. But if you have read many - this one wouldn't be that essential of a read. For me, I treasure all Simon Napier-Bell books - and I'm a fan of his record productions as well (Fresh and mid-period Yardbirds). ...more
I don’t have many, but the few humiliations that I went through in my life I have totally erased them, except I do remember, but it’s so deep into myI don’t have many, but the few humiliations that I went through in my life I have totally erased them, except I do remember, but it’s so deep into my consciousness, it’s like a ghost thought. On the other hand, Wayne Koestenbaum faces up to his humiliations as well as pointing out other artists and public figures who experienced the terribleness of being exposed to the most fearful humiliation possible. I’m a fan of Koestenbaum’s writing, which is everywhere on the map of literature. His shot Penguin biography on Andy Warhol, is one of the best books on that subject matter, and I also enjoyed his essays focusing on the 1980s. “Humiliation” maybe his best book, because it is something that we all can share with - that feeling or point of time, when the unmentionable happens and how we deal with it.
WIth the subject matter of Humiliation, Koestenbaum finds the perfect personalities to accompany that pain. Michael Jackson (great take on him), Jean Genet, Liza Minnelli, Alec Baldwin, and of course, himself. As I read this book, I feel a tinge of pain. That, comes with the territory. Superb book. ...more