What’s the Big Deal? (Fountain Circle by Seth Lemmons. CC 2.0 License)
My favourite crossword blogger, Rex Parker, recently went on a rant about how crossword puzzles depicted in film and television are often completely spurious. Fictitious grids are written into scripts and rarely respect the rules of crossword or clue construction. As result, something that escapes the notice of the vast majority of observers incites disdain and outrage from the devoted few who care about such things.
I find these sort of niche annoyances fascinating because they are a window onto foreign worlds of passion and knowledge. This is why I was so tickled when my friend, the water artist Pierre Luu, went on a tirade against the placement of fountains in traffic circles. Personally, I’d liked to see water spouting about as I drove past. What could be the problem? Continue reading →
I had just finished reading a review copy of George Plimpton’s oral biography of Truman Capote at the time I wrote my first true crime book, so I had flexible notions of just how objective and “true” true crime had to be. When my book was published, one of the more sincere journalists in the newsroom was aghast at the narrative liberties I had taken. I remember cooly responding, “Relax, it’s faction.”
A decade or so later, Viken Berberian gave me an early draft of his book Das Kapital, A Novel. I was alarmed by the factual liberties he had taken: the novel was set in the early 21st century yet the terrorist group blew up the Crystal Palace exhibition centre, which in fact had burned to the ground in 1936. When I mentioned this, he said, quite cooly if I recall, “Relax, it’s magical realism.” Continue reading →
ABOUT MOKO & LOUPE Moko & Loupe is a short comic film about friendship at the frayed ends of a world that’s coming undone. It was written by Adrian Hornsby for Tim Vincent-Smith and Quinn Comendant, and filmed together in London and the Isle of Sheppey in 2012. It premiered with s i n k performing the music live in the Summerhall Old Anatomy Theatre, Edinburgh in 2013. Many live screenings have followed.
MUSIC BY SINK s i n k is an acoustic improvising trio of accordion (Daniil Dumnov), violin (Tim Vincent-Smith), and saxophones (Matt Wright). The music for Moko & Loupe is to an original sink score — part composed, part chance. Tim Lane plays the sansula. Continue reading →
Jonny Diamond is at the heart of an enthralling and hopeful new project. He explains it best in his own words:
I lived in a bookstore in Paris for six months. It was a romantic and terrible experience: a Turkish toilet, cheap wine by the Seine, all the books I could ever read, cockroaches at the bottom of syrupy cocktails, freezing nights on a short cot in the art section. Wonderful and terrible.
While there, I met the man who would introduce me to my wife, the man who would give the speech at my wedding, and the man who would—years later, in New York—kick-start my professional life. Three different men, one bookstore.
The wife in question (the only, the wonderful wife) owned a bookstore in Brooklyn. It was there I went after Paris, for my first job in New York, cash-in-hand at the end of a shift. I loved that job, loved more what it led to. My wife, Amanda, now runs a different bookstore, in a different town. Happily, it has both bar and children’s section—my four-year-old and I can be found there often.
Bookstores have always been central to my life, and remain so: for the pleasures they afford, the opportunities they provide. Bookstores, at least for my young family, are both escape and livelihood.
Sampling old musical passages to create new music is a rich and widely discussed practice. But sampling old music to make new photography?
My work with the °CLAIR Gallery introduced me to the photographer Petr Lovigin and his remarkable ‘Black Dwarf’ video. Simply put, it is the most beautiful piece of art I saw in all of 2014. It has everything I love: oddity and splendor and, perhaps most importantly, a nice little intellectual kick; thanks to Lovigin, I discovered that Alexander Vertinsky was the baddest Russian composer and artist I’d never heard of.
I sent Petr an email in Bangladesh where he is in the midst of a multi-month project. He answered three questions for me:
1. Why Vertinsky? Is he beloved in modern Russia?
I think that no. Already one century past his maximal activity. But for me that time (Silver Age of Russian Art, October Revolution 1917, Civil War 1918-1920) is very interesting… I know all the songs of Vertinsky but his romance ‘’Black Dwarf’’, the story behind it – it’s like it is about me. Continue reading →
I went to Barclays bank today and asked them what their ethical policy was. The lady looked blank. Then a light dawned and she asked did I mean stocks and shares? Her brighter colleague came to her rescue saying that not only was no one in the branch qualified to answer that question but it was unlikely that I would even be any the wiser for looking on the internet. If I could wait for five minutes she would come out of the booth and I could write a letter to the manager in head office to see what they had to say about it and by the way No One had Ever asked about this before.
I found this hard to believe. It seemed like a fairly simple question. I have had an account with you for 20 years. I put my money in and then the bank presumably invests it. Would it be possible to know what they invest it in? Continue reading →
This afternoon on the corner of Bermondsey Street I saw three Italian girls, all looking at maps on their phones. Each was turning her phone to orientate the map better to the street, but at the same time, the phone was turning the screen in the opposite direction in response to gravity. And so as they stood there, all three cartwheeled their phones round and round. The October sun was shining brightly.
One of D. T. Suzuki’s books ends with the text of a Japanese monk describing his attainment of enlightenment. The final poem reads, ‘Now that I’m enlightened, I’m just as miserable as ever.’
(D. T. Suzuki quoted from John Cage’s endnote on 45’ for a Speaker)