Working with Jenny
I had an opportunity to work with Jenny Holzer several years ago. Jenny’s art is language scrolled down bright LED's in museums and places like Times Square or projected on buildings. One of my favorite Holzerisms is “The Future Is Stupid”. I love this idea because it is so contrary to what we think. We believe in the nano-future with its magical gizmos and World’s Fair modern marvels. Jenny says not so fast. The future is stupid.
Jenny’s art is a reminder that now is what we are granted, now is what we have. The future and dreams about it are just so much I Dream Of Jeannie fantasy. Ever notice how poorly the future is predicted? Doesn’t feel like we are living in a world as futuristic as The Jetson’s. I don’t work at Spacely Space Sprockets do you?
Cars are stupid.
Cars are stupid because we’ve allowed them to get that way. In the Myth of Sisyphus Camus says the natural human reaction to repeatedly rolling a rock up a mountain only to watch it roll back down is revolt. Rock rolling is the dance we have with car companies. We roll rocks up. Each step brings new assurance from them that this time life at the top of the mountain will be too cool for school. Nope, no sooner do we arrive than we watch the rock tear its way back down.
Revolt is the solution. My revolt takes the form of not replacing a 10 year old Nissan Sentra falling apart around me. I admit to having a certain pulse tightening experience in the old days when I owned an Audi Quattro. Those days are gone and my pulse is fine (not to mention my bank account). We revolt by refusing to connect anything to a car other than its ability to get us places. Cars don’t make us cool, rich, smart, sexy or intelligent. Cars are stupid.
Do you think the future is stupid? Tell me why. Do you have a revolting car story. Share it here. Do you love cars? Share why you love cars and you may convince me.
Monday, January 14, 2008
Working with Jenny
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Miles Davis - Birth of the Cool
I saw Miles play in Scranton when I was around 30. I wasn't as Miles-centric as I am now. I am listening to Sanctuary from the Complete Columbia recordings as I write this, but I was a fan. I would listen to Birth of the Cool and some of the older arrangements with Gil Evans when I painted late into the night. The venue was an old style auditorium where the V started with the stage and worked out to three sections across. We were sitting about the tenth row stage left.
Miles came out all raspy voiced and sweating. His set was electric. The band was teenagers really and he had their complete attention. His stance was head down and bent over his dark metallic horn. He spent most of the night with his back to us wandering around the stage. I had the sense Miles could play the set backwards in his sleep as he listened for things he wanted to emphasize or pick up and hold for us. Every now and again I could see him half look across the horn over at the bass player or the piano guy and they would node and take an amazing solo. I will never forget Miles' generosity. It was as if he was there to help them not the other way around. In many ways I suspect that was true. Playing with Miles must be the bones every musician could spend a lifetime looking for.
While there was no sense of playing to the audience there was a real community around Miles in that auditorium that night. It was as if we could solo too if he just turned around and gave us that sideways glance across his horn. Everyone there loved Miles for the most part. Miles was appreciative but in no way deferential. Miles wouldn't defer to someone who could save his life much less the 500 people in Pennsylvania on an average winter Friday night. No, he was there to play with the band and we were honored to observe.
Every now and again the collective we, the audience, just couldn't stand it anymore and we would break out in boisterous applause for the fluid moments that we witnessed. Miles would half bow as if to say, "yes that was nice." Miles was being Miles and that was a special, special thing. About half way through his set I realized that this night would be one I would remember as long as I lived. I understood suddenly that this singular moment would be one of a handful of things I would know and love forever. Graduation, my wedding, a couple of other clear coherent moments and Miles looking down that dark horn and over those impossibly dark glasses as if to say, "no go on you take it."