Monday, August 15, 2016

If you want to be famous, you must do something more badly than anybody in the entire world

In my near-constant and endless wanderings through the virtual world, I recently discovered (thanks to Flashbak) the work of Miroslav Tichy, a Czech photographer who remained largely unknown until his photos were finally exhibited in 2004. Known as the "perverted flaneur," Tichy roamed the streets of his hometown Kyjov in the Czech Republic with large, ungainly homemade cameras fashioned out of cardboard, wire, tin cans, and spools of thread. The homemade cameras let small amounts of light leak onto the negatives, giving his work a hazy, dreamlike quality.

His preferred subject matter was women, and all of his shots are candid, voyeuristic photos taken surreptitiously on the street. He was likely able to get away with this because his cameras looked so shoddy most people assumed they were incapable of taking actual photos (see below).

Tichy, with one of his homemade cameras
Tichy had a refreshingly postmodern take on art and technique. Of photography, he said:

First of all, you have to have a bad camera and if you want to be famous, you must do something more badly than anybody in the entire world.

This philosophy could just as readily be applied to the type of talentless fame we've come to expect from reality TV and middling pop stars. Hey, it worked for Meghan Trainor. If you can't be good, be bad. But don't just be bad, be the worst.

All of his photographs are untitled and undated, but span a time frame from roughly the 1960s through the 1980s. He died in 2011.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Leaving San Francisco

I'm sitting in my living room on the threadbare, dirty carpet. There are boxes all around me, the room is strewn with 9 years' worth of personal detritus that I lovingly collect, frame, display, and shove into forgotten drawers. Out of the picture window, framed like a neon light-up poster, are the cotton candy clouds illuminated by a solstice sun that is taking its sweet time slipping behind Twin Peaks. Bernal Hill is to the right, the giant cranes in the Oakland shipyards are directly across the bay, standing like monstrous trojan horses. The neighbor's weird chimney vent that looks like a knight's helmet and shakes its head (gently or vehemently, depending on the strength of the wind) is unmoving, staring just off to the left where the plum tree that reaches its branches against my window is slowly bearing fruit.

I have spent 9 years of my life in this place, in my own place filled with my things, with this view from not the apex, but the near-apex of the hill. A place that makes it difficult getting in and out of your car--the door will keep trying to slam on your calves as you climb out. Visitors nearly always enter the apartment breathless, even if they only parked across the street, their cheeks and lungs flush with new blood.

I have moved from nascent to fully-formed adulthood in this apartment. Age 24 - 33. A time period that took me through 3 jobs, 2 boyfriends, 9 roommates. Roommates that come and go as their lives take them to other cities, other apartments, other jobs. Dean, Julia, Tara, Alicia, Brooke, Lori, Ben, Wardell, Monica. Gone but not forgotten (although I wish I could forget Ben, the roommate who locked himself in his room drinking for 3 months and never bothered to wipe his pee off of the bathroom floor). I hold their presence with me as I pace through the empty rooms, down the narrow hallway. Their DNA must still somehow remain in the lead-based paint and the threadbare carpet.

I want to remember every detail of every thing that ever happened to me within these walls. I want to memorize the floor plan so that 10, 20, 30 years from now, when I am calling somewhere else home, I can still conjure up the details of this, my first apartment. I want to remember every sunset that I watched from the living room, momentarily stopping whatever I was doing (or more likely, watching) to take in the vibrant colors and expansive mural of the city. I want to remember conversations had and un-had, parties thrown, lazy evenings spent in total and complete relaxation. I want to remember the guy who walks his cat on a leash and is maddeningly un-humorous about it.

I am sentimental and to forget is anathema.

But change is inevitable, and whatever comes with this new chapter of my life, my non-San Francisco chapter (working title) will surely bring with it new things to be wistful and wax poetic about, so I really shouldn't be standing in what was the spare bedroom getting all misty-eyed. It's not like I have nowhere to go. I won't be homeless. I'll just be transient for a time, without a home of my own but not without a roof over my head.

And what is home anyway? How much does it really matter, to have a place filled with your shit that you return to at the end of the day and feel comfortable in? A place where the DVR is filled with your recordings, where the coffee grinder is right where you left it. Where time unfurls with an ease and predictability as comforting as pulling a warm fleece blanket around your shoulders when the June gloom sets in and the wind comes howling out of the west and sweeping down the hill. A place where you can walk around in your underwear and be ugly as you please.

All this is a roundabout way of admitting that I'm moving in with my parents for a time while I sort through the cognitive dissonance associated with being a textbook gentrifier who can't afford the city she helped gentrify. OH THE IRONY. I will miss this place.

Stay tuned for more adventures.

Sunday, January 3, 2016


Goals. Not Hashtag Goals. Here is what I'm hoping to self-manifest in the year of Our Lord, 2016.

1. Travel somewhere new
Taj Mahal, 1959
Arc de Triomphe, Paris 1960
Tahiti, 1962

2. Read more books

3. Pick up a new creative hobby
The Art of Ornamental Orange Peeling, 1910

4. Keep expanding my musical horizons

 5. Visit a big city when it's snowing

6. Invest in laser hair removal

7. Keep exercising

8. Be less flaky

9. Furnish my patio

Friday, January 1, 2016

Why Does Time Fly?

If 2015 felt like the fastest year yet, welcome to the club. And if you need more reasons to fear the speed of your impending demise, check out this terrifying infographic by Maximilian Kiener that explains if you live to be 100, half of your perceived life is already over by age 7. 

Happy New Year!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Source Family Weekend

My undying, everlasting love for Halloween hasn't waned despite being well past the age when putting on a wig and assuming the identity of someone else can be considered normal. This year we were loyal disciples of Father Yod, members of the Source Family, a hippie new-age cult that opened the first organic health food/salad joint on Sunset Boulevard in the 70s. It was cutting edge stuff back then, and frequented by hollywood stars like Marlon Brando and Julie Christie. Their guru, Father Yod was a 6'5" WWII veteran trained in Jiu Jitsu, which basically made him the world's least likely figure to lead a bunch of pot smoking hippies to total spiritual enlightenment, but there you go. They lived together (all 150 of them) in Father Yod's home in the Hollywood Hills, and their spiritual practices included eating an organic, vegetarian diet, and healing themselves with crystals. Oh yeah, and old Father Yod had 14 wives, natch. He also fronted an experimental psychedelic rock band called YaHoWha 13, and they recorded 9 completely unlistenable albums that featured Father Yod banging various percussion instruments and wailing like an injured animal. 

But overall, The Source Family were pretty tame for a cult, especially a 70's cult. When Father Yod finally lost his marbles, he just killed himself instead arranging a mass suicide, which I guess is pretty considerate. There's a fascinating documentary about them on Netflix if you like that kind of thing.

Point Reyes served as the perfect mise en scène for the weekend. We rented a small family cabin and went hiking in the misty, deserted woods. The clocks fell back, plunging us into a darkness that felt premature and welcome at the same time. It rained one night, which if you live in California is a rare treat. It was a nice escape, both from my daily look and from my daily reality.

Monday, October 5, 2015

You're on Earth. There's no cure for that.

Apollo 17 Hasselbad images, 1969

Thousands of images of the Apollo moon missions up on Flickr.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Life Imitating Art

For anyone wanting to feel completely terrified by the unintended consequences of technology and its increasing dictatorship over our daily lives, may I humbly recommend the UK's Channel 4 series Black Mirror. What I find most startling about the show (which runs episodically with unconnected plots in a kind of twilight-zone-meets-tech-dystopia) is the fact that due to recent headlines, I'm convinced the show is prophetic in more ways than one.

First, British PM David Cameron makes headlines for doing sex things with a dead pig while a student at Oxford. This, according to an explosive tell-all book by the world's most Britishly named person, Lord Ashcroft. Sounds a lot like Episode 1, The National Anthem, which was actually filmed 4 years ago. If you haven't seen it, I don't want to give away too much, but let's just say it involves a really really fucked up "would you rather" type of situation.

The final episode of Series 2, The Waldo Moment, is about a popular cartoon character most known for hurling sophomoric insults and making off-color jokes whose creators ends up having him run for president. The episode is from 2012, but it's impossible to watch it without feeling an uneasy deja vu about a certain bloviating political caricature currently holding the coveted #1 spot in the polls for Republican nominee. In the end Waldo won't win, and his creators know it. That's not the point. His purpose is to upset the course of world events by trolling other candidates and swaying public opinion. It shouldn't work, but it does thanks to a mouth-breathing, anti-intellectual populace more concerned with entertainment than political ethos. The Donald Trump similarities are so striking as to be absurd.

Anyhoo, of everything I've seen on TV in the past 6 months (and believe me, there's been a lot) this is one of the only things that qualifies as must-watch. And apparently the series creator is writing new episodes as we speak that will hit the US sometime in 2016, so if you haven't gotten on the bandwagon yet, you better catch up on Netflix.