Monthly Archives: December 2007

Posting Notice: So this is the new year

Bahia Honda Bridge

I’m heading back down to the Florida Keys this weekend to hit the reset button for next year. This time we’ve tacked on an extra day at the end to see everything in Miami. One of life’s great regrets is that during my stay in Key Biscayne back in 2003 I never got around to checking out the Winter White House, Nixon and Bebe Rebozo’s Key Biscayne pleasure palace. That was where the president holed up to wait out Watergate like he was Boccaccio waiting out the plague. A real estate developer went and tore the place down in 2004, leaving no trace of that city’s special contribution to our nation’s psychic trauma. It speaks to our perceptions of Nixon that his compound was given less of a push for historic preservation than the brownstone next door to the Whitney.

Life Winter White House

Still, the Internet tells me there’s some nice sunsets to be viewed from the Presidential Helipad, and there’s always Harry Truman’s Little White House in Key West. And best of all, the helpful and entertaining blog C-Monster informs us that the house where Elián González lived has been laminated and turned into a museum, an honor not even granted our 37th President. (To be fair, Nixon was spared the abduction at gunpoint and deportation -Ed.)

I had meant to get everybody some good end-of-year Best of 2007 lists, but the (for me) vacationless holiday season turned out to be longer than anticipated. Of course, by the time I get back, at least one of the major presidential candidates will be having a Howard Dean-style Iowa meltdown, so I’ll probably be racing to finish some hilarious remix to post on YouTube in the sad, vain hope of getting Jeanne Moos’s attention. 2008 is going to suck.

For the bored, here are my posts from last year’s Keys excursion:
Notes on the Keys, part one
The Idea of Order at Key West

Up top is an image of the Bahia Honda Bridge, which is more or less US 1’s equivalent of the High Line.

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I Am Legend

I am Legend

On my way to see it last night, Dave quoted me a statistic that the area around Wall Street has the highest male-female ratio among residents of any zip code in the country. (He later copped to possibly maybe making it up.) The factoid’s imagery—unattached men in their downtown luxury dormitories—set me off thinking about parallels with other migrant lone men and their entrepreneurial get in/get your money/get out mentality: off-sea rigs, California orchards, Dubai construction projects, Old Prospector, Alaskan crab fishing.

For the finance industry, duh, the rewards are greater for little to no risk (to yourself), but a decent proportion of the lingering downtown population must be Wall Street casualties. The rationale of ‘Sweet, I’ll be closer to work’ morphs to ‘I’ll push for five years, make bank, get out, catch up on that social life, start the family, ride the wave’ morphs to ‘How does Goldman still get a bonus?’ morphs to ‘Shit, I waited too long,’ and the bachelor ratio stacks up higher. Boys.

Which ruined my enjoyment of I Am Legend because now I couldn’t help but watch it as a metaphor for rapacious unregulated capitalism. Our zombies—and zombies are allegories for whatever you wish them to be, Virginia—are mostly men and really white, spend the day in office buildings and carouse through the streets all evening. They just don’t see the point in giving back to the community. Meanwhile our uncontaminated hero is a research scientist. Whether he works for the army or NYU, he is safely within the borders of the nonprofit sector. A nonprofit worker in New York City, up against these guys: that means that, however well-intentioned and duty-bound, he is insane, self-destructive, lacks judgment, and they will kill him in the end.

Nikola Tesla and Available

Nikola Tesla and Available

St. Sava Cathedral, W. 25th St

Other recent Tesla sightings:
The Prestige (boring)
Against the Day (wouldn’t know)
Coffee and Cigarettes (Coil only)

Duncanology

History of Glamour

So six months on Jeremy Blake and Theresa Duncan appear to have returned, in their fashion. Jeremy has two new shows up, Theresa is still blogging, and—most importantly—there’s been a renewal of press attention.

If they are lurking around they might take heart from the diagnosis of Joseph Campbell:

The Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, and hundreds of analogous tales throughout the world, suggest … that in spite of the failure recorded, a possibility exists of a return of the lover with his lost love from beyond the terrible threshold. It is always some little fault, some slight yet critical symptom of human frailty, that makes impossible the open interrelationships between the worlds; so that one is tempted to believe, almost, that if the small, marring incident could be avoided, all would be well. In the Polynesian versions of the romance, however, where the fleeing couple usually escape, and in the Greek satyr-play Alcestis, where we also have a happy return, the effect is not reassuring, but only superhuman. The myths of failure touch us with the tragedy of life, but those of success only with their own incredibility. And yet, if the monomyth is to fulfill its promise, not human failure or superhuman success but human success is what we shall have to be shown. That is the problem of the crisis of the threshold of return.

Vanity Fair has posted the full video of Duncan and Blake’s History of Glamour (complete with incident at the Googenheim).

Previous Gloss coverage: Duncan and Blake

Duncan kate moss

Didi and Pay-Go

Godot

Can we now stop waiting for that Democratic Congress we elected to ever arrive?

Democrats fold on Alternative Minimum Tax and break their pay as you go promise. New York Times:

The move represented a bitter retreat for Senate Democrats who, in taking over Congress this year, pledged to pay for new tax cuts or programs rather than add to the federal deficit. …

Mr. Reid said that he supported the “pay-go” concept embraced by Democrats but that he was left with few options because of the Republican ability to block any alternative minimum tax relief that complied with such budget rules.

“We’ve tried every alternative possible to do this,” Mr. Reid said. “I believe in pay-go. I think that’s where we should be.”

NYT: Senate Backs Freeze on Tax Without Cost Offsets
Even though previously: Tax Stalemate Threatens Chaos as Filing Nears
And previous to that: Congress Weighs End to Private Equity Tax Break

I can’t go on, I’ll go on:
Congressional Maneuvering Dooms Hate Crime Measure
Energy Bill Vote Blocked
Dems Considering Proposals That Would Quietly Fund Iraq War
Senate Approves Mukasey Nomination

They don’t even approach New Orleans, but that fails to surprise.
A Broken City. A Tree. Evening. (Holland Cotter on Paul Chan’s Waiting for Godot in New Orleans)
Creative Time: Waiting for Godot in New Orleans

Pieter Hugo: The Hyena and Other Men

Pet Hyena

Christ, this man has a hyena in a muzzle.

Pet Baboon

Christ, this baboon’s wearing a football* jersey and riding on the back of a motorbike.

These are from South African photographer Pieter Hugo’s first U.S. solo show, which opened last week at Yossi Milo gallery. The main series in the show, a group of Nigerians with a menagerie of hyenas, monkeys, and snakes, were originally captured on film by photojournalists who assumed they were money collectors or criminals. Hugo tracked the group down and discovered they were actually traveling performers. And after the ‘holy crap’ moment passes, your delayed reaction is to notice the familial aspect between the men and their animals. These are pets and they have a bond. It’s a pretty loyal baboon that wears clothes and poses for a portrait on the back of a motorcycle.

Honey Collector 2

His second series on view at the gallery, the Honey Collectors, won’t get the attention the Hyena Men do, but they are strange and haunting in their own sylvan way. Honestly, the look like they could be militants. Just as the journalists naturally assumed that the Hyena Men were bandits, the Honey Collectors could pass as camouflaged guerrillas. This is West Africa, after all, and our impressions of the region are partial and skewed for the worse. Hugo’s photographs force us to second guess our first impressions.

The prints are suitably Chelsea-sized and pack a punch that jpegs don’t. They are worth a viewing. There is also a catalogue published by Prestel, which (per Amazon) will be available to the public in February.

Yossi Milo Gallery
Pieter Hugo’s Web site
A typical and entirely appropriate reaction

*U.S.: soccer