This article on Letters Home, by Adolphus and Jonas Mekas catches my attention…

When Jonas Mekas died in 2019, aged 96, he left behind a monumental legacy. Widely recognised as the “godfather of American avant-garde cinema”, the auteur and poet’s boundary-breaking works propelled the New American Cinema movement of the 1960s and 70s to brave and brilliant new heights.

… it mentions Kenneth Anger, Andy Warhol, Allen Ginsberg and Maya Deren as friends and collaborators with Jonas Mekas… i know of two of the four…

… Deren’s film, Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) “has been one of the most influential experimental films in American cinema history… the film is short and can be watched through its Wikipedia page…

… here lies a rabbit hole of substantial proportions…

First notes...

226.6 lbs

… five days of weight loss… three while pursuing the No S diet approach… also meals low in refined carbs like pasta…

… it is the one year anniversary of the riot at the Capital Building… the facts available point to it as an insurrection and are beginning to detail a planned overthrow of the government… that planning continues and it is uncertain what, if anything , will be done to counter the efforts happening around the country to suppress the vote and rig the voting system… the most likely action is one flying under the radar screen, mostly… a reform of the Electoral Count Act of 1887… 45’s attempt to seize power in a way that would have the pale varnish of legitimacy was built around weaknesses in the ECA… the lack of clarity on the powers of the VP to certify being one of them… there appear to be bi-partisan efforts to shore it up… the most widely publicized efforts are a number of voting rights bills that have passed the house but are stalled in the Senate with no Republican support… some change in the filibuster rules will be required to pass any voting rights act which, at the present moment, seems unlikely… i have given up hoping on that one… and then there is the work of the January 6 Commission… it appears they will be able to demonstrate conspiracy to overthrow the government but the question is, can they do it compellingly enough to shift the narrative?… and, if so, will it shift enough?… time will tell…

… in all of this, Liz Cheny continues to be my hero for the stand she is taking… she is attempting to take down 45 and his cronies before the rabid conservatives of her state vote her out of office… she appears to be one of the few Republicans with …a spine…

… yesterday i spent much of the day trying to free the castor wheels of my office chair… so much animal and human hair was logged in them that they have become immobile and are scratching the finish of the floor in my studio… i was only able to return three of five to fully spinning order… i found replacement castors on Amazon and ordered a set with rubberized wheels designed for hard floor surfaces… if i had known when i started where i would end, i would have jumped to the end…

… we watched Matrix Resurrection last night… or, rather, H watched it and i slept through the bulk of it… alcohol has been doing me in for the last many nights… slow down on that and i might make it through an evening’s worth of viewing… my sense of it was that it wasn’t as good as the first three…

… news, via Heather Cox Richardson, that citizens are revolting in Kazakhstan… Russia and Belarus have agreed to send “peacekeeping” troops to assist… the people are fighting the corruption and poor service of their government, which is authoritarian… there appears to be worry that the protests will spread to Russia and Belarus… the internet has been shut down and there are reports of clashes between government security forces and citizens with casualties…

… ordered a cast iron pot/pan to replace the last non-stick coated pan i have in the kitchen… i am looking forward to its arrival… i am hoping to be able to make Persian rice with Tadigh in it… one needs a good non-stick surface to do that… cast iron can be mostly non-stick, but usually not completely… the advice is to use extra oil when making the tadigh… i used gift card money sent by R to purchase it… i also bought traction devices for my shoes… i had to curtail my walk yesterday because the sidewalks were slick…

… i don’t expect to be encumbered by any household tasks today… hopefully just photo editing, reading, writing then cooking will be the order of the day…

… this morning i lay in bed and tried to count my breaths up to ten… its remarkably hard to do… after about half an hour i managed it and then got out of bed… the usual routine… put water on to boil, grind coffee beans, feed the cat, take meds, let the dogs down and out… because Fiona is a clever and determined escape artist i have been escorting her out into the brisk darkness and watching her closely… i have all the holes in the fence repaired, but we have thought this so many times only to learn she has found and exploited a new weakness apparent to her but not us… it was fun to watch her sniffing along the ground, following the trails of night critters across or under the leaf litter… we all came back in and i gave them treats, which is what they are up for anyway… then they went back to bed and i prepared my coffee and came up to start the writing/reading part of my day…

First notes…

227.8 lbs

… first day of following No S diet… weight loss… it’s one day… i will see if i can keep it up…

… last night, as i was lying in bed i wrote a note… “i am beginning to imagine the unimaginable”… that is, i am beginning to imagine the United States as a failed democracy… i have started to give up hope that the ship can be righted… i did this partly on the advice of Oliver Burkeman, author of Four Thousand Weeks, and partly out of real despair that the political stars are aligned against democracy right now…

… this morning i read Heather Cox Richardson’s posts from yesterday and today… hope flickered to life… the stage is set… a battle for the soul of the country will unfold in the coming weeks and months as the January 6 Commission makes its case to the public… and the Senate will try to amend the filibuster in order to protect voting rights… if enough people believe the findings of the J6 Commission, and the Senate passes voting rights legislation, all may not be lost…

… in the meantime, what i can do is help make sure the small levers of democracy where i live aren’t corrupted and make genuinely good information available to anyone who will read/listen… and, of course, i will vote like democracy depends on it…

… more broadly however, in the department of letting go of hope, i acknowledge that this democracy may well be reaching the end of its run… the cosmos, as Burkeman and so many before him have pointed out, really doesn’t care if democracy continues in the US or not… it simply unfolds and humanity responds in whatever way helps it survive… it may even be that the welling up of intelligence on the planet is pointed to an advancement that will have little to do with human freedom… i prefer to think not, but this is the trend of the “dominant culture”, for a few powerful elites to be in control and for the rest of us to be subsumed in effective slavery…

… i think to myself, nobody asks to live in a time when the social order turns itself upside down… i think to myself, i did not plan for my old age to be lived out in times of social order dismantling… i planned for it to run out in relative peace and quiet… i wonder if senior citizens overtaken by WW II felt this way?… looking forward to a little peace and quiet and not being challenged by the rigors of making a living and what happens?, a devastating war… as a white, middle class male, am i one of the few to have this blessing?… it did not feel that way as my life unfolded… there were certainly disappointments and challenges… but was i ever really challenged the way, say, a black man is challenged in our society?… we all have troubles… some of us from positions of relative advantage… even with that, there are troubles…

… i was thinking yesterday, why do people write?… originally, to express and communicate, to develop and record collective wisdom… i was thinking about this because i was thinking about how the dominant culture turns writing from expression and communication into a means for economic ends… we are made to believe that we must have an audience because we can’t monetize if we don’t have an audience… for this reason, we don’t accumulate wisdom and share it freely… we put a price tag on it… and because the ability to put a price tag on it means the work must be marketed, we start to see a world in which wisdom doesn’t prevail, only what is marketable prevails… words are useless if one can’t monetize them in this society… but really, reading and writing is about developing and communicating wisdom…

… we started watching Station 11 last night… central to the narrative is a graphic novel written by a young black woman… she writes and draws, but nobody has ever seen more than little bits and pieces of what she writes and draws… one day, she delivers a copy to her ex and says, “i finished it”… until that moment, she does it only for herself… this to me is the purest form of creation… work done entirely for its own sake… work done because we feel compelled to do it… that is what this blog, this Notes On Attention Paid is… something i do trying not to hope anyone will read it and doggedly pursuing it even though nobody reads it… i apply time out of my precious 4K weeks to doing it largely because i don’t seem to be able to not do it… it anchors me… it gives me something meaningful to do…

First notes…

228.4 lbs

… read two depressing articles in The Economist yesterday… one a broad discussion of how the United States might loose its democratic government, the other a discussion of how 45 stands a good chance of becoming president again, should he decide to run… i imagine he will… he has too many scores to settle… and, just like that, we are an authoritarian government… the news out of the Biden/Harris administration isn’t good… one wonders if Mitch McConnel will step in… perhaps he will help with voting rights… i struggle to maintain hope that things will turn out well…

… yesterday i began, after first notes, by reading a book rather than articles in my feed… it was a much more satisfying way to begin the day and i will do it again today…

… i have made the change over to Obsidian as my main writing app… i am refining my use of drafts as a note taking throughout the day app… yesterday, i reorganized the location of apps on my phone to reflect the apps i most use… i am feeling i have a near perfect suite of tools…

… we watched Don’t Look Up… it seemed an utterly useless movie… i understood it’s satire, it’s metaphor, but i suppose it hit too close to home on the stupidity of humankind and the present moment without offering anything that might compel change… i don’t find the present moment in time a laughing matter… H really liked it and claimed i don’t understand satire, and, as she often does, that i have no sense of humor… i have a good if somewhat dry sense of humor, but humor isn’t really what is called for in this moment…

The New West Side Story Brings the Show’s Father Issues to the Fore, Kyle Turner, Hyperallergic

… compelling review of Spielberg’s take on this classic reimagining of Romeo and Juliet

Spielberg’s understanding of West Side Story and the role of inheritance in it (the love he’s inherited for the show, the love or hate the characters inherit for one another) is not uncomplicated. He doesn’t find a satisfying, saccharine answer around resilience the way he usually does in his characters, even though that idea easily could have manifested here in the form of María and Tony’s romance. Nor does he lean into the sentimentality of working on such a beloved title. His approach is dynamic, as shown by how he deepens (without “solving”) the story. Though evincing a classical Hollywood sensibility, he makes the personal and political violence more harrowing, their cyclical nature more tragic. The aesthetic in-betweenness — both breathtakingly old-fashioned and sharply modern — feels like his way of situating West Side Story within both his filmography and broader cinematic and political history. “Somewhere” is a utopian song, but finding a “new way of forgiving” doesn’t seem possible without grappling with the past. María and Tony ultimately can’t escape it, but can the show? Can Spielberg himself? Maybe “tonight” …

First notes…

227.8 lbs

… 24 hrs till departure… things are more or less on track… a few more dangling ends than i would like, but they should be tied up by end of day…

… we watched A Very Murray Christmas last night… it was generally good except for the patriarchal configuration which was generally pretty traditional and maybe more than a little outdated?… it contained the song Baby, It’s Cold Outside, which has come to be known in some quarters as the “date rape song”… as i was listening to it the only thing that stood out to me was the “what’s in this drink” line, which suggests to some in present day audiences that the woman is being drugged… i get that, but, as usual the situation seems more nuanced… it’s worth reading this wikipedia article which outlines the controversy over the song… it is interesting that as contexts change, meanings change too… i generally like the song and the most significant thing to me is that the woman, while resisting, essentially consents… at no time in any performance of the song does she seem out of control… the “what’s in this drink?” line did hang me up a bit… the wikipedia article explains that this line essentially quotes “a common idiom of the period used to sidestep social expectations by blaming one’s actions on the influence of alcohol.”…

… we also watched Chocolat, which was a great movie with a wonderful cast, Jonny Depp, Juliette Binoche, Lena Olin… it was a Babbette’s Feast movie except it’s more direct target was the Catholic Church entrenched Patriarchy of a small town… i look up Babbette’s Feast and just reading the Wikipedia article explaining the plot i am in tears… what a beautiful film and story… i discover it is based on a short story by Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen)… i find a pdf of the story and save it to Evernote… i want to read it…

… i’ve gone down a rabbit hole, one thing leading to the next… what bliss…

First notes…

… watched My Dad’s Christmas Date and i was bewitched by Olivia Mai Barrett… there was something about her that was utterly engaging… the movie itself was very watchable but we couldn’t escape the feeling that something missed a beat… a dad/daughter team navigating the territory of having lost a wife/mother in a car accident… it is two years on, Christmas, and both are still trying to cope… it had all the plot elements of a feel good tearjerker but in the end failed to deliver… neither of us could figure out exactly why… the acting was pretty good, the characters sympathetic, and in the case of Ms. Barett’s character, pretty engaging, at least to me… i looked up OMB, not to be confused with Office of Management and Budget, and found that she has not been in very many productions… i will be on the lookout for her in future, i feel like she had something…

… my main accomplishment yesterday was chicken stock… i made a bunch… H had lunch with friends so i was tied down to house, dogs and stock pot watching…

… lots to do before we leave… today i think the main thing is to get presents wrapped and sent to R and J…

What i read…

Heather Cox Richardson, December 15, 2021… about the January 6 commission and the noose tightening around the administration of 45… about the build back better spending bill and Manchin’s insistence that the price tag come in under 1.75 trillion over ten years… about a defense budget with 25 billion more than 46 asked for for a single year… there is money for new technologies while preserving money for old technologies that provide jobs to constituents…

Senator Manchin, Keep Holding Out on Build Back Better, the Editors, National Review… Manchin is the lynchpin of Build Back Better… Heather Cox Richardson reports above that he will accept a bill with a 1.75 trillion price tag over ten years… this article tries to hold him to a statement early on that said 1.5 trillion was his limit… i suspect something will get passed in the end…

Sinema Doubles Down on Filibuster Defense amid Democrats’ Pivot to Voting Bill, Caroline Downey, National Review… apparently Sinema remains a know on filibuster busting… a spokesman for Sineam:

“Senator Sinema has asked those who want to weaken or eliminate the filibuster to pass voting rights legislation which she supports if it would be good for our country to do so,” LaBombard told Politico. He said that there’s a risk that the measure gets “rescinded in a few years and replaced by a nationwide voter-ID law, nationwide restrictions on vote-by-mail, or other voting restrictions currently passing in some states extended nationwide.”

DeSantis Introduces Bill Banning Critical Race Theory in Public Schools, Private Company Staff Trainings… Caroline Downey, National Review… my understanding is that Critical Race Theory is not taught in any K-12 school anywhere… that it is taught at the college level only and mostly in law schools… this article suggests that DeSantis’ bill would not only ban something that isn’t happening from K-12 programs, but reaches up to the college level and into the training programs of private companies… that would be a huge overreach that is suspect would not hold up in the courts… so, is he proposing it without expectation of it passing just to check off a box on his expected run for President?…

Are the Parents of the Michigan School Shooter Guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter? Jacob Sullum, Reason.com… this article argues that they may have been negligent, but that their actions, or lack thereof, do not rise to Involuntary Manslaughter… i suspect the author is correct on this point and so, this case becomes an argument for tighter gun control laws…

The Attempted Republican Coup Should Be the Democrats’ Leading Message. A. B. Stoddard, The Bulwark.… i agree wholeheartedly with the opinion expressed in this article and have for some time… the threat to Democracy is the number one issue that needs to be dealt with…

The events of January 6 were clearly planned and coordinated to some extent—to what extent we have yet to learn. And the same is true of the post-coup cover-up.

Republicans must be made to answer for these facts at the next election. For two reasons: If they are not made to answer for it in 2022, then they never will be. And if aiding and abetting a coup doesn’t prove to be a political liability, then such attacks will be incentivized in the future.

‘West Side Story’ and the American Melting Pot. Christian Thrailkill, The Bulwark… a glowing review of the new movie by Spielberg, though i already knew i wanted to see it… this was one of my favorite films growing up as i have always beens a sucker for stories of romance against the odds… accomplishments of any kind against the odds really…

Aleksei Navalny: The Man vs. The Symbol. Benjamin Parker, The Bulwark… this article is interesting… heroes are rarely pure as the driven snow, often, far from it… we work with the heroes we have is the point of the article… it also gets me thinking about any kind of accomplished individual that has broken ground in new or courageous or new and courageous territory… humans are imperfect creatures, to say the least, and society moves forward none the less, often carried by heroes with major flaws…

Does it degrade the thoughts of Navalny’s fans, employees, and followers to support such a man? It’s tempting, especially for Americans, to argue that racism and xenophobia ruin even the most vigorous advocacy for human and civil rights. But Russia has no equivalent of the 1619 Project. They went through a period of iconoclasm in the 1990s, tearing down Lenins and Stalins all over—and then they stopped.

Perhaps one day, Russians will have the luxury of arguing over whether to dismantle statues of Navalny for his manifestations of bigotry. But that luxury is, at this point, so far in the future that it is hard to even imagine. It would mean that democracy in Russia is so entrenched, so stable, so unthreatened that it would no longer need reminders of his sacrifice. Perhaps before we worry about whether or not a man such as Nalvany deserves statues, we ought to get to a place where erecting a statue to him is an option.

Where’s the beef? Brent Orrell, The Bulwark… it strikes me as significant that this article is published in The Bulwark, a conservative leaning publication created at the beginning of the Trump Administration by conservative journalists who could not abide Trumpism and still can’t… there are some particularly interesting acknowledgements in the article:

Over many decades, the American economy has depended on a seemingly endless supply of workers (documented and not) willing to work for the sometimes parsimonious wages on offer in our advanced, globally-integrated, highly competitive, and skills-biased economy. If employees didn’t like conditions, well, there was always someone else anxious to take the work. Just five years ago, McDonalds had 50,000 applications lined up for 13,000 jobs.

… note the in parenthesis part about workers, documented and not… i have long thought there was conservative hypocrisy on the issue of immigration and that their protestations of loose border policies had more to do with ensuring an undocumented (and therefore cheap) flow of workers into the country… that is how it looks to me anyway… sure, we need well controlled borders and immigration policy is a mess… but part of the reason for the mess is our unacknowledged dependence on undocumented labor… again, my opinion…

But it goes beyond just working conditions and into less tangible, but no less real, issues with how the people who do this work are viewed and treated. Meatpacking jobs were (and are) disproportionately held by undocumented, refugee, and other immigrant workers in mainly conservative, rural states that left workers exposed to employer and government pressures and community indifference during the opening chapters of the COVID crisis. (emphasis added) The status of these workers as essential “outsiders” aggravated long-standing problems in an industry that had come to take access to a continuous flow of cheap labor as part of its business model.

… and then there is this:

We didn’t get here overnight. As one meat processing plant manager commented to NPR a few years ago, “Workers are really cheaper than machines. Machines have to be maintained. They have to be taken good care of. And that’s not really true of workers. As long as there is a steady supply, workers are relatively inexpensive (emphasis added)”, a quote that summarizes the situation better than anything else could. No doubt the market will eventually bring wages and working conditions into balance with supply and demand. For now, we know the answer to the age-old question, “Where’s the beef?”

… inflation has become a big worry… as we are mostly on fixed income at this point, i am certainly not a fan of it… but to the extent it is about better wages, working conditions for workers, and a rational immigration policy, i am happy to learn to live with higher prices for the goods i purchase…

What i read today…

Heather Cox Richardson, Letters from an American, December 07, 2021… the heroism and death of Messman Doris Miller, a black man, in WW II… he was on board the U.S.S. West Virginia in Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked… he survived the sinking of the West Virginia but later perished when the U.S.S. Liscome Bay was sunk by a Japanese Torpedo, November 24, 1943…

I hear a lot these days about how American democracy is doomed and the reactionaries will win. Maybe. But the beauty of our system is that it gives us people like Doris Miller. Even better, it makes us people like Doris Miller.

In Defense—God Help Us—of Lauren Boebert, Chris True… i read the article and understand the point being made, but on the fence about whether i agree… my great frustration is that individuals that “no decent person … should give the time of day” get the time of day, get traction, take cover behind the protections of the system they are working towards dismantling… it puts those of us who want to stop them at a great disadvantage… we may be at a place where lines have to be drawn… on the other hand, it is a slippery slope…

No decent person should give Lauren Boebert the time of day. Congresswoman Boebert, however, is a different story. Congresswoman Boebert is representing over 700,000 people and those 700,000 people deserve the same representation in Congress as everyone else, even if that makes Democrats feel unsafe. Sticking to your principles often does._  International Court of Justice Rules Azerbaijan Must Stop Destroying Armenian Cultural Heritage in Artsakh, Yelena Ambartsumian… the ICJ apparently has the authority to refer its decisions to the UN Security Council which has the authority to do something about it… i am in sympathy based on what the article tells me, but wonder how straightforward the issue really is… last night Rachel Maddow’s opening monologue talked about the taking down of monuments to war heroes of the Confederacy… would the Confederacy, such as it exists today, have the right to appeal to the ICJ for relief?…

… a cartoon by Guy Richards Smit in Hyperallergic… last week, on Deadline Washington, Donny Deutsch lamented that the people he talked to in his crowd (he’s pretty wealthy) weren’t particularly concerned with whether democracy survives or not…

The Power of the Dog Is a Different Kind of Western Film, Ela Bittencourt, Hyperallergic…

In Jane Campion’s elegant adaptation of Thomas Savage’s novel The Power of the Dog, nature is an instrument of both wonder and violence.

The audacity of the original book comes from Savage combining a heated sibling rivalry, an illicit love story, the Western myths of male virility, and a murder mystery all within its slim pages.

How Marisol, “the True Trailblazer,” Paved the Way for Andy Warhol, Karen Chernick… “Behind every great man there’s a great woman.”… Marisol was quite well recognized at the time, so, not living in the shadows… but… an interesting exhibition…

Marisol, “Andy” (1962–63) (Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, image © Acquavella LLC (1962-63), © 2021 Estate of Marisol / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)

The Hungry Eye: Eating, Drinking, and European Culture from Rome to the Renaissance, Leonard Barkan, review by Lauren Moya Ford, Hyperallergic… for art lover epicureans… there don’t appear to be recipes, but i suppose we can find our own…

… this image from the book catches my attention in particular… so many layers to dig through…

Joos van Cleve, “The Holy Family” (c. 1512-13) (the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)

New Study on NFTs Deflates the “Democratic” Potential for the Medium, Jasmine Liu, Hyperallergic… yesterday i upgraded my micro.com subscription to premium to take advantage of the new email signup feature and begin posting short videos which i call video stills… i was ambivalent about doing this because i have viewed these video stills as ideal for the NFTA world… it is interesting to see that the market is shaping up to be a reflection of the physical art world system of value creation and art distribution, where there are taste makers serving as intermediaries advising the well to do on their art purchases… i struggle with this system because it is exploitative and elitist and a direct reflection of the power structure in which art is created… artists don’t often make out well trying to participate in this system… i don’t have to make money from my art at present, so i don’t have to participate in the system if i don’t want to, and lately, i don’t want to… right now, i create my art and offer it for free on a platform that isn’t profiting from my free content…

First thoughts…

229.8

… i am in a run where 6 to 6 ½ hours of sleep is sufficient… at some point i will need more, but for now, it’s good… i like getting up a little earlier… being at my desk by 4 AM…

… hotel bookings for the trip to Florida are complete… we found a cheap Red Roof Inn room in Savanah Georgia and booked it for two nights on the way back so we have a chance to see a little something of the city… looking forward to that…

… looking forward to visiting M except that i am increasingly anxious and angry about efforts of the far right to undermine democracy… lots of news stories yesterday proclaiming we are nearing the “break glass in case of emergency” point… some are saying we are past that… returning to M, as far as i can tell, they get their information entirely, or almost entirely from Fox News… i won’t be able to have a conversation with anyone who gets their information solely from Fox… most of my knowledge of the news comes from reading and i have both liberal and conservative sources…

… made a delicious mushroom cream soup last night… it turns out to be H’s favorite…

… after dinner we watched LoveHard and agreed it gets added to the Christmas rotation… it’s plot is predictable, it spoofs Love Actually a bit and is not as good, but, in the end, a satisfying Christmas romcom… i told H i was feeling a jones to watch Lars and the Real Girl and Hugo… she agreed with Hugo, was skeptical about LATRG as Christmas fare…

What I Read Today…

  • Letters from an American, December 02, 2021: the government got funded last night and Heather Cox Richardson explains why that strengthens our hand on the international stage…
  • Ridley Scott’s Dyspeptic Disposition: a review of Ridley Scott’s film making career… a promise that Raised by Wolves will be released winter 2022…
  • my journal entries from weeks 5 & 6 of 2021… i am trying to review my journal for the year… two weeks a day should get me through the entire 2021 journal by Christmas… certainly before the new year… i am making sure everything is tagged so that i can filter content into significant people, reading and thought trends… in weeks 5 and 6 i continue to make my way through Simone de Beauvoir’s _The Second Sex_…
  • Dinaya Waeyaert Come Closer: i read the review, written by Brad Feuerhelm and glean that it is a photobook about two women who love each other… one is the photographer… it is a book about intimacy which BF’s hyper-intellectual style barely is able to crack into… i go to the photographer’s website which has a full presentation of the project, opening with a short film… it is a beautiful testament of one young human being’s love of (obsession with?) another young human being, with it’s all enveloping sexual attraction, action and reaction bubble… how well i remember those days in my own relationship with H… this appears to be a beautifully done project… i put it on my to get list…
  • A Conversation With 10x10 Photobooks: in which i am reminded of a book i would like to own, What They Saw: Historical Photobooks by Women, which Colberg points out was in part put together to address the dearth of women in The Photobook: A History, volumes 1 and 2, which i own copies of… what they saw is also on my to get list…

Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn

… i read the review in AnOther magazine which i have been avoiding for days, largely because it was primal me that was interested in looking at it and i was trying to resist primal me… it surprised (disappointed?) me that it was not about the porn industry and was instead about societal attitudes towards sex and woman and largely about the polarization we are experiencing around the globe… i now want to watch it though with subtitles and it’s subject matter it will be a more difficult sell to H… a link to the trailer

A Review of Titane Intrigues Me in All Sorts of Ways…

a review of Titane in Hyperallergic… i wonder if H will be interested?…

The Loneliest Whale

… this looks interesting…

  • The Loneliest Whale: The Search for 52… a documentary about searching for the 52-hertz whale that has become a symbol of alienation to hordes on the internet… the whale apparently produces sounds at a frequency that other whales can’t hear… this is assumed to mean the whale can’t find friends… it’s apparently available on Hulu… we have Hulu… for more info, this review in Hyperallergic

Modern Nature, Derek Jarman

… we seem to be in the throws of the memoir writing decades… the memoir format is much more literary, much more composed… memoirists conjure up memories of things that happened long ago, which allows them to create a well rendered and, most of the time, more flattering, if quasi-fictional, account of their past… moreover, it seems to me that everyone has decided they live in interesting times and should tell the world about it…

… as i open the book to read, the sound of garbage trucks in the DMV parking lot which reminds me the garbage needs to be put out… back in the studio, i am re-reading a section which mentions the journals of Denton Welch which describes his writing as “crystalline”… i have looked him up on Wikipedia where he is described as “an English writer and painter, admired for his vivid prose and precise descriptions”… i purchase a previously owned copy of his Journals… Maurice Cranston’s description of Welch is quoted in Wikipedia:

He had no trust. This in turn connects with his greatest limitation as an artist. He built too many barricades and enclosed the range of his understanding. If he could have seen the wider human comedy with his miraculously penetrating eye, and described the world as he described his own, he would surely have been among the greater writers in our language. As it is he will survive as a minor genius, one of very few from an uncreative age.1

… DJ wishes he could write in as crystalline a way as Welch…

… names dropped, Annie Lennox, Keith Herring… the later reported as dead, the former ringing up to discuss whether to do an AID’s charity gig…

… a trip to Poland for a film festival featuring his films… the descriptions of a country in which everything is state owned… mercantile competition doesn’t seem to exist…

… then this brief paragraph:

Meetings like this, with an exchange of ideas, have quite disappeared in London. Music there is so loud no-one can hear a conversation any longer.2

… this causes me to pause, quote, it occurs to me that loud music in social settings was/is a plot to keep young people from exchanging any meaningful ideas… in this way they can’t coordinate their misery into rebellion and the capitalist machine can profit off of them… i wonder how much in our world has been constructed to keep the young from coming together and rebelling… just keep them dancing, drunk, drugged and by the time they come out the other end they have lost their will to fight…

… i am finding it interesting to read a journal, which is written as one goes… i expect it has been tidied up for publication, but the Derek Jarman i perceive in the pages would not have been one to do that much tidying… mostly editing aimed at making it more readable… by contrast, in my time, people don’t publish journals… we seem to be in the throws of the memoir writing decades… the memoir format is much more literary, much more composed… memoirists conjure up memories of things that happened long ago, which allows them to create a well rendered and, most of the time, more flattering, if quasi-fictional, account of their past… moreover, it seems to me that everyone has decided they live in interesting times and should tell the world about it… i have this thought that i shouldn’t be too critical here, as i am writing and posting things that are of little interest to anyone but me, and are hardly consequential… i am just another human making their way in the world, wishing i was consequential, writing and publishing like they i am consequential, when, in fact, i know i am not… but it’s wrong to put it that way… i am not broadly consequential… i have been consequential to a small circle of lives…


  1. Cranston, Maurice, quoted in Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denton_Welch [return]
  2. Jarman, Derek, Modern Nature, p247 [return]

Films of Kim Jee-woon

… i am planning to watch The Age of Shadows next, it appears to be available on Netflix and has a rare 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes

First Thoughts

… awoke with a start this AM, realizing i had forgotten to take my BP meds yesterday… a very rare occurrence… back on track now…

… months ago, i bought a vertical mouse, partly because a very expensive track ball had failed, and partly in hopes that neck pain i was experiencing was some form of mousing injury… the pain has almost disappeared… can’t attribute it to the vertical mouse with absolute certainty, but it is an interesting coincidence… i should note also that the vertical mouse has felt very natural to use…

…the HCR meter this morning is neutral… it was all about how Social Security got enacted and the woman responsible for it, Frances Perkins, the first woman to hold a position in the U.S. Cabinet… it ends on a somewhat disquieting note, a quote from Ms. Perkins…

One thing I know: Social Security is so firmly embedded in the American Psychology today that no politician, no political party, no political group could possibly destroy this Act and still maintain our democratic system. It is safe forever, and for the everlasting benefit of the people of the United States.1

… fast forward to today, Democracy is under attack and if the siege is successful, Social Security and other social safety net programs will be on the chopping block…

… i was reading about China yesterday… an article on their move to reign in their tech industry… they have given it unfettered existence to this point… one of the things they are doing is forcing platforms to play nice with one another, so that they can’t monopolize a space… this surfaced my enormous frustration with the distribution of films in this country… i have been wanting to watch the movies of Kelly Reichardt all together, one after the other… it’s impossible… they are available on different streaming services, or not available at all… one needs to sign up for every f’ng media service out there to do it… it shouldn’t be like that… i am all for companies making money from the content they own, but there must be a way that delivers more value to the customer… it should be available for rent on all services, even at a somewhat higher price, and can be offered as part of a subscription for free or lower cost on the streaming service with the rights to distribute… then services can compete to provide the best user experience, the best stable of content to provide free or lower cost, etc… nobody would have to sign up for half a dozen services to watch the variety of content they want to watch… the Chinese government could make this happen, that might be its advantage…

First Thoughts

the HCR meeter points downward today… she talks about the fascist tendencies that are being expressed across the country, especially, at present, around local officials’ attempts to meet the COVID resurgence with mask and vaccine mandates… she points out that something similar happened in the 1930’s during FDR’s time in office with an actual coup attempt in 1934 (which was strangely absent from the history i learned)… whether we head in that direction seems hinged on what Democrats in congress do about voting rights… many would argue that the need is urgent, and yet, there are Senators unwilling to part with the Filibuster rule…

… news also, in the form of a text exchange between my brother and sister, that Dad gets worse… i feel a tinge of sadness about it, even if i am estranged from him… even though i long ago gave up any expectations that we might one day come to an understanding… i don’t know if this tinge of sadness is about loosing a father or about the sadness anyone might feel on hearing of the descent towards death of another human being… And therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.1

… a comment on one of my posts!, they do get read after all…

… i have been watching the films of Kelly Reichardt… while H is on Block Island tending to her mother… i am watching art house films she may or may not have been in to… the Reichardt films are what i like to call slice of life films… that is, films which pick up in the lives of rather ordinary characters, observe them for a while, then set them down without full resolution of their present situation…

… last night i watched River of Grass and Meeks Cutoff… the first set in contemporary times, the second set in the 1800’s… Meeks Cutoff was the more enigmatic and thought provoking… basically, a group of religious pioneers making their way across desert landscapes, short on water, not really knowing where they are going or when they will find water… they have a guide, Meeks, who they wonder about the intentions and capabilities of, consider whether to hang him, but don’t (it is a religious group)… along the way, they capture a Native American whom they can’t communicate with but whom they decide to have faith in to lead them to water… it’s questionable whether he understands that is what they want or even if he does, will lead them into the hands of hostile Native Americans… at one point Meeks decides to kill the NA (which he had recommended from the beginning) but one of the pioneers, a woman played by Michelle Williams (one of my favorite actresses), steps in to stop him… shortly thereafter we leave the intrepid band of settlers following the NA into the distance… not very much happens during the film in action terms… it’s almost laughable that it got a 16 or older rating for violence, of which there is practically none…

… i had already seen one of Reichardt’s films, Wendy and Lucy, featuring Michelle Williams as Wendy and her dog Lucy, making their way across country on a tight budget, when Wendy gets arrested for shoplifting, she is separated from Lucy whom she spends the rest of the film trying to find and reunite with…

… there are three more to watch, Old Joy, which appears to be unavailable on any streaming service, Night Moves and Certain Women… i will try to watch the last two tonight and tomorrow night…


  1. John Donne, No Man is an Island [return]

Bill Gunn, Filmmaker

… this work looks interesting to me… hard to see through any of my streaming services… i am getting tired of the idea that one needs to subscribe to every streaming service to be able to pursue all the movies one might like to pursue… corporate slime with their hand in my pockets, everywhere, all the time… and don’t get me started on the corporatization of my local vet practice…

… rant over…

… if you live in NYC you can see an exhibit on Bill Gunn’s work, long shunned by the mostly white patriarchy, at Artist Space

… on another down note, does this mean that the patriarchy is ready to take the message on board without doing anything to change?…

The Most Beautiful Boy in the World, Documentary

… Björn Andrésen, chosen by Luchino Visconti to play Tadzio in his film adaptation of Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice… at the film’s premier, Visconti declared him “the most beautiful boy in the world”… it looks like a sad an interesting story, read about it here then maybe watch the documentary when it comes out…

06 Black Widow Part II:

… tremendous fun!… and what a down with the patriarchy movie!… i mean really, it’s wall to wall women as strong, smart characters and when they are not, it’s because they are mind controlled by evil men… fabulous… women rule!…

05 Black Widow:

… love Scarlett Johansson… beautiful and a really good actress… did you ever see her in Lost in Translation?, with Bill Murray?… one of my fave movies of all time… anyway, here is a review of Black Widow which makes it seem worth going to, and the local theater has it playing and is open!… i am vaccinated, but am i ready to spend a couple of hours with strangers in a theater?… hmmm, tough question…

03 Influencer

a review of Sweat, a new Polish film… the story about a social media influencer, exercise guru… it catches my attention because i make social media efforts, i crave followers… i don’t think i have more than 500 followers on any platform i post to… i want to be worth following, i want to be followed…

… as i write this i also know that followers and likes are the crack cocaine of social media sites…

… one of the things i love/hate about micro.blog is that i don’t know how many followers i have… i don’t know if my words are appreciated unless someone goes out of their way to let me know… there are no likes or hearts to appreciate with… you have to say something about it…

… my greatest mindfulness challenge is to give up the need for attention and just be… find joy in what i create, experience, because the here and now of my existence is enough in and of itself…

04 Turkish Delight, 1973 (Film Still)

another example of sex selling, it almost always works on me… i wish i could say that was not true, but it is, and perhaps i shouldn’t feel so bad about it because it works on the majority of us and maybe we should have less prurient idea of sex and the naked body… though, its her nakedness that sells, he’s just a prop… the male gaze sought and secured…

… it turns out that the film still is from a movie that will be discussed in the pilot episode of the podcast series reported on in the article…

_The season’s pilot episode will dissect Paul Verhoeven’s second feature Turkish Delight (1973) – an intensely violent and erotic film charting the fallout of a stormy love affair. Although unsung on an international stage, it has been named the greatest Dutch film of the 20th century by critics in its native Netherlands, and played a significant role in the country’s countercultural history.1

03 Kelly Reichardt

a review of the films she has directed… i have seen one of them, Wendy and Lucy, slow, nuanced, poignant, sad… i am thinking it might be time for a film festival in lieu of our series binge watching… i watched Wendy and Lucy at the beginning of the pandemic because Michelle Williams was in it and i adore Michelle Williams, she is a courageous actor, a very good actor… she is in several of Kelly Reichardt’s films…