Friday, April 13, 2007

As of yesterday, I've been doing this blog for four years. Thanks to everyone who's looked in!

excellent new issue of Common-place on graphics and print culture in 19th cent. America...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Fats Waller

After theatre
is our usual time for relaxation,

and following dinner
I roamed restlessly

through the beautiful
park there.

At dawn the birds awakened,
and out of their lovely chirpings

one short strain stood out.
I went back to the hotel,

and by ten o'clock that morning,
with the aid of some delicious

Amontillado Sherry, we had finished
Honey Hush...

Two views (Reid Shier, cloudy; Sharla Sava, sunny) of the "Pine on the Corner" in its present state...

looking forward to maybe hearing Gaucho somewhere on the River Road tonight...

"But it’s not funny. None of it’s funny, really. It’s not funny, because they’re completely broken. The white picket fence, or penthouse, or whatever, isn’t enough to bring any glint of feeling into the couple’s lives; in fact, when wealth and perfection fail to bring them happiness, their spirit immediately faces a huge void. It’s Steely Dan having no fun at all, painted into their own tableau. The man, surrounded by granite countertops stacked with luxury goods, sort of wants someone real—the Gaucho. The Gaucho wants to escape his own drift. The third man tries to play up the Gaucho’s absurdity because he’s heartbroken, he’s been genuinely threatened; his partner has taken another man. Nobody wins. And Steely Dan plays it with cadences like an after-school special; there’s nothing..."

time to re-assess Robert Moses??

""Robert Moses and the Modern City" catalogues and illustrates Moses’s oeuvre in New York City - every pool, beach, neighborhood playground, city park, road and crossing, housing and urban renewal project, along with some miscellaneous ones, like the U.N. headquarters or the Queens Museum’s diorama of New York City - each with a lengthy explanatory and historical entry. (His vast projects on Long Island and upstate fall outside the scope of the book and exhibitions.) The cumulative effect is formidable, with more than 150 pages of projects. And not only are pools and parks redeemed, but highways, reconsidered from a technical-rational point of view, figure favorably. Thus, the Cross-Bronx Expressway, destroyer of urban fabric, becomes, according to the highway’s entry in the book, a “vital link in the city’s modern transport system.” And history strips Moses of authorial control: the road had already appeared in the 1929 Regional Plan of New York - if Moses hadn’t built it, someone else would have. The conflict over the “one mile” in East Tremont becomes representative not only of Moses’s power and inflexibility, but also of “the preeminence of three planning objectives: facilitating regional traffic flows, protecting parks, and reducing residential densities in low-income neighborhoods.” The importance of people, in this re-revision of Moses’s history, fades in comparison to the over-arching planning principles of the day..."

Monday, April 09, 2007

Kenneth Burke (above right), from "Negative Emphasis: the Elegy, or Plaint" in "Poetic Categories" (1937)--

"William James, for instance, complained that Schopenhauer was CONTENT with his pessimism. He wanted a world he could bark at. And unquestionably, once a man has PERFECTED his complaint, he is more at home with sorrow than he would be without it. He has developed an equipment, and the integrity of his character is best upheld by situations that enable him to use it. Otherwise he would have to become either disintegrated or reborn. As a child, Augustine said, one learns to "avenge oneself by weeping"--and if one matures the same device by the use of adult material, one may paradoxically be said to have found a way of "accepting" life even while symbolizing its "rejection." In such cases, "acceptance" does come very close to "passiveness." The elegiac, the "wailing wall," may serve well for individual trickeries in one's relation to the obligations of struggle--but if it becomes organized as a collective movement, you may feel sure that a class of people will arise to "move in on" it, exploiting it to a point where more good reasons for complaint are provided, until the physical limits of the attitude are reached. Like humor, it is a frame that does not properly gauge the situation: when under its spell, one does not tend to size up his own resources accurately--but in contrast with humor, it really SPREADS the disproportion between the weakness of the self and the magnitude of the situation."

thanks JT for this better scan of "Pine Tree on the Corner"--his favorite Wall. too. Elsewhere, CB offers a reminiscence...

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Saw on the news last night that the big ponderosa pine on the corner of Salsbury & William, subject of Jeff Wall's epochal "Pine on the Corner" (1990), has been chopped down, the excuse the usual "stability" issues. All the trees that fell on people's houses and cars in the storm last winter have made the remaining big trees easier to get rid of--they're all potential criminals now. I lived very near this corner in a couple of places for a number of years & Wall's photograph (& I wish I could have found a better version of it) felt like a gift when I first saw it & still does, if in a sadder register.

Canadian dictionary getting full overhaul, two Tims with & two sour-cream glazed...

"Sometimes, though, a word is so new it hasn’t even been published. It may just have been passed around verbally.

Like “timbits.”
“I’m not talking about the doughnut holes, but used in the sense of children: ‘All the timbits were running around in the yard making a lot of noise,’” Dollinger says.
“It’s something that is just now being created. So the link between timbits and children that is not in a hockey domain isn’t documented in writing, but that’s where it comes from —the Timbits League.

“But it’s spoken language. I got that from a friend and it’s not that we’re making that up, it’s just not in print data (yet).”
Brinton adds: “Things come into print pretty quickly. If you think of when ‘loonie’ arose, that was a really interesting one. Within a very short time after the coin came out, it was universally used.”

Dollinger struggled for a few moments before agreeing to let us use “timbits” for this story because the usage is so new he’s sure his rivals at Oxford don’t have it.

“But they will as soon as your article is out,” he says..."

via my heroine Erin McKean's Dictionary Evangelist

Bolaño in Mexico

"The Infrarealists stood firm beside "the barrel of pulque we had brought, and a twenty-five-kilo Mennonite cheese we had lugged from the market at La Merced.""