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Faction, Magical Realism, and This

Washing Hands Campaign by Emmanuel Bakary Daou. © Emmanuel Bakery Daou, 2014. All rights reserved. Courtesy Rencontres de Bamako.

Washing Hands Campaign by Emmanuel Bakary Daou. © Emmanuel Bakery Daou, 2014. All rights reserved. Courtesy Rencontres de Bamako.

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

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In Praise of Bookstores

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.

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Best of 2014 – Black Dwarf

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.
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Investigate Ethical Investment

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

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Paris your plughole is up! Sink le mini tour!

après moi le déluge
et le déluge tombe
dans le sink
à Paris

Saturday 8th Nov, 5pm :: Tumbleweed Music
sink play Shakespeare & Co., 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 5e

later on Saturday 8th Nov, 7.30pm :: Sink the Jazzbar w/Kate Stables
sink and Kate play Le Petit Joseph Dijon, 3 Rue Joseph Dijon, 18e

Sunday 9th Nov, 5pm :: Concert Secret de Sink et Kate Stables
avec le short film Moko and Loupe accompagner d’un soundtrack live
208 Rue St. Maur, 10e


sink is the acoustic übertrio of Tim Vincent-Smith, Daniil Dumnov & Leon Wright

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Sound Mirror


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R.I.P. Mike Dineen

Mike Dineen in Earth

Mike Dineen in Earth

Mike Dineen passed away last Thursday. In productions I was involved in, Mike played the judge in Earth in Paris and Amsterdam, and 3 in the Châteaudun performance of Part 2 of Three Parts — the first public performance of a piece I’d written.

Mike you were sharp and funny and with a touch for the beautiful. You understood how to move people. Thank you for having moved me, and been a part of my life.

— Adrian

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Reading over China-related notes (poking at As Big As The Sky), some interesting connections suggested themselves among the papers paving my study floor.

1. In Ming dynasty China, a bill proclaiming legally stipulated punishments:

  • 80 blows for striking another so as to cause internal bleeding
  • 80 blows for throwing dung at the head of another
  • 100 blows for stuffing dung into the nose or mouth of another

2. Under the leadership of Mao Zedong, during the Cultural Revolution:

In schools and some workplaces people were required to eat yì kŭ fàn 億苦飯 (recalling bitterness meal), made of tree leaves or chaffs mixed with horse dung or dirt, as part of the ritualistic practice of remembering the past. Not surprising, the meal had a terrible taste Continue reading

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Buddhist nomad in action!

Quinn Comendant, immersing himself in another project.

Quinn Comendant, immersing himself in another project.

Keen readers of the Running Eye Blog might have noticed the occasional contribution from Quinn Comendant, the wandering coder from Chico who has taken part in exceptional projects in … well, in just about everywhere. Beijing, Paris, Berlin, Greece, Turkey, London, California, etc. etc. etc..

Recent years have seen him embark on a wide-ranging spiritual quest that involves a strain of Buddhism, a thirst for meditation, and a perplexing guru. Even though Quinn is mostly preoccupied by these ephemeral pursuits, happily he still has time for the occasional cultural lark (see his above-pictured starring role as the mutant mime Loupe) or an applause-worthy political engagement.

Falling into the latter category is his recent involvement in a hack-a-thon in Mexico meant to develop technology that solves issues of migration in Latin America. The life of a migrant is particularly horrible; as Quinn notes, “things are fucked up here: the government has acknowledged more than 27,000 people are disappeared, 60% of women on some routes are raped.”

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Cannibalism & Killer Fairies


Killer psychopath bent on revenge or sassy rascal with a heart of gold?

When you have small children, you consume a lot of children’s entertainment. And, sometimes you consume the same bit of entertainment over and over again. Forty-seven viewings of Cars, Good Night Gorilla read so many times the spine is in shreds, the tune to Baby Beluga welded so deeply into the synapses that fantasies of strangling Raffi haunt your waking hours.

After a while, it’s natural that a few narrative inconsistencies or plot peculiarities begin to stand out. Take Tinker Bell. In the original Disney version of Peter Pan (1953), she is a jealous sprite who twice tries to have Wendy killed, once by getting the Lost Boys to shoot her out of the sky, once by helping Captain Hook plant a bomb in her temporary tree home. Yet, in the Disney Fairies incarnation, [Tinker Bell (2008), The Lost Treasure (2009), The Great Fairy Rescue (2010), etc.], which are prequels to Peter Pan and feature the ‘birth’ of Tinker Bell, she is so syrupy that you begin to wonder what event will eventually transform her into the blood-thirsty fairy that wants Wendy dead. Do all her fairy friends get massacred before Tinker Bell’s eyes, only for her to be rescued from the flesh-spattered carnage by Peter Pan, which creates a mix of repressed trauma and unhealthy emotional dependency that manifests itself with murderous inclinations? Continue reading

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