Pop culture treasure, high culture trash.

Friday, April 25, 2008


Today I am graduating from graduate school. I guess that makes me a meta-graduate or some such awkward species of overgrown student. On Tuesday I am moving back to Minneapolis (at last) to live with Pants and intern at the Walker Art Center. The Walker is now in the middle of hosting the traveling Richard Prince: Spiritual America show--you might recognize Prince from the cover of Sonic Youth's Sonic Nurse album, which uses an image form his Nurses series.

One last AA event before I go: former MOJO editor Iggy Pop book tour stop. Then, vigilant avoidance of women who resemble Anne Bancroft.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

First in flight

Ann Arbor's Gallery Project has an amazing show up through May 11 organized around the theme of temporality. There are two mixed-media assemblages by Weldon Higgins that were influenced, according to his artist's statement, by Duchamp, Rauschenberg and Joseph Cornell.** The Cornell connection makes sense; they have something of a shadow box aura about them. The first piece, "60," is stunning. It's a large canvas covered in early to mid-twentieth century newspaper clippings about Amelia Earhart and the Hindenburg disaster and too many others to count. "AND THEY WROTE IT DOWN AS A PROGRESS OF MAN" runs across the bottom, painted on over the newsprint. Cut up film stills of (I think) James Cagney and a Fred-and-Ginger-style 1930s dance team come perilously close to bumping up against a face wearing a surgical mask. There are small platforms that extend from the base of the main canvas with human teeth in them, and a jar eaten up by rust and a bird's nest with a tiny avian skull nestled inside. The commentary on transience and decay is arresting once you start tuning in to it, but not so strong that it becomes over-obvious or didactic. You have to work a little to fit the pieces together.

**There's a piece by Gloria Pritschet in the show (Familial Matrix I and II that seems influenced by Cornell, too--lots of black-and-white paste-ins of family photos, with little shelves for curios like screws and rings and wee daguerreotype-like portraits.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Driven to distraction

Noted: if one is attempting to retain maximum attentiveness throughout a three-hour class on archival appraisal, one should not bring along Derek Jarman's Dancing Ledge to read beforehand and then accidentally leave it lying open once said class begins. It's the rare lecture that can compete with passages like this one:

When Nureyev announced he was ready we walked into the room to find him naked, drying himself from a shower. I was even more unprepared for this and didn't know which way to turn my eyes. Blushing, I introduced myself and hesitantly showed him the costume. My hesitation was like a red flag to a bull. He picked up the costume and pinched the material nonchalantly between his fingers, before dropping it with disdain. He looked at me mockingly, and said the material was awful. Then rubbing himself suggestively with the towel he lectured me on tights, and said that it would be wasting his time trying them on. He had a perfect pair which he'd brought back from Switzerland. Then looking me slowly up and down he said -- 'Well.'

To say nothing of:

Patrick Procktor asked me to spend a few days with him at Tony Richardson's house in the South of France. We flew to Nice and drove to the old house, which is deep in a pine forest. We arrived as Mick Jagger left, and Patrick, who knew the place, rushed ahead. I discovered him in the guest-room lying on Mick's unmade bed. "This is mine," he said, "and there's no need to change the sheets."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I don't like his eyes, but I like his art

You know your perspective is off when you see the online news feed headline "Priest Stalker of TV Host O'Brien Apologizes" and instantly think of Glenn O'Brien rather than...well...Conan. He has a televisual-type show of his own, I hear. If it hasn't got out-of-focus interviews with Basquiat and new wave bands debuting/ruining their best songs, I can't promise I'm up on it.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Don't you ever/ don't you ever/ stop being dandy

A recent viewing of the excellent new romantics/Blitz kids documentary A Fine Romance inspired me to go back and check to see if all those Adam Ant videos were as tremendous as I remember them to be. They are all that and a deep fried Mars bar. Even I somehow didn't initially register the flagrant, conspicuous queerness of, to name but one example, the "Prince Charming" video. Reinventing the Cinderella story so that a man fills the heroine's glass slippers is one thing, but 1:13 - 1:23? Sakes alive, fellows, those are some rippling torsos! Ridicule is nothing to be scared of, indeed. Also, I could swear that's one of the Mo-dettes popping in for a cameo at 1:49, but it's probably just the hat. It seems to have been quite the fashion accessory among the postpunk lady/new romo drag set circa 1981.

Speaking of the Mo-dettes, the blog Filthy Sick has posted streaming mp3s from their 1980 single "Dark Park Creeping" b/w "Two Can Play." "Dark Park Creeping" is on The Story So Far but "Two Can Play" isn't. I got the 1977-1980 Rough Trade singles compilation "Wanna Buy a Bridge?" off that blog a while ago and it is still leaving me speechless daily. Delta 5, the Slits, Essential Logic, Kleenex, the Raincoats and YMG all on the same label at the same time like it was no big deal. The early Kill Rock Stars comps are all the same way. These were some extremely musically prescient moments in time, and some equally prescient people, in front of and behind the scenes.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Variation hard

An answer, at last, to the question "What has Hedi Slimane been up to lately?" International Men's Vogue is so much more interesting than its American counterpart it's not even funny.