Thursday, August 27, 2009

the big bands

I'm weeding files on my PC and found a few images from the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog. If you think the Library of Congress has lots of images on their Flickr stream, there's even more on their website. Happy browsing.

The new and old Dodge City Cowboy band

Eagle Rube band #2:

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

incident at Spook Hill

incident at Spook Hill, originally uploaded by a nameless yeast.

new on the bloggy, bloggy boo - what is that red light? there's nothing behind that Carol Channing ventriloquist dummy but woods.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I'm a Neanderthal Yeast

I had the day off monday. I usually spend it running errands, maybe getting drunken fried rice for lunch and seeing the latest Adam Sandler movie - and, more often than not, shedding a tear at its sentimental resolution. (The only Adam Sandler I saw that *didn't* make me cry was REIGN O'ER ME, the post-9/11 stress syndrome picture which was slathered in Very Important Resolution and seemed far less emotionally convincing than LITTLE NICKY). But this monday I spent the day off weeding, and perhaps apropos of Sandler, I went back to my childhood.

I don't much like the language of twelve-step programs, but to be honest, living in a big house enables the shit out of me. My present and past acquisitions are scattered to the far corners of three floors and an attic, and part of the task of weeding is clearing out one space in my room only to bring in something I've left elsewhere in the house, more or less negating the space gained upstairs. It's like the world's least inefficient conveyor belt with no chocolate shop at the end in which to sell my irregular samplers. I can work for an hour or two and know I've made a quantitative difference, but then take a look at the resultant space and see hardly any aesthetic difference at all.

It goes both ways. Last month, in the early stages of my weeding renaissance, I dragged a copy-paper box full of old New Yorkers out of my room and took it up to the attic. The most recent issue in the box was late summer 2001, and the issues went back to the mid-90's. That I didn't just empty the box outright has been gnawing at me, and I pictured its contents, sitting on an old cocktail table in the attic, crashing through the floor and sending decades of clutter and pithy columnists all the way down through to the basement.

So I went up to the attic with that simple goal in mind - to bundle up the spawn of David Remnick and mercilessly drop them in the recycle bin. (If you open up the recycle bin right now, you'd see Gore Vidal's sour puss, advertising whatever it is they advertise on the back of a 1990's New Yorker, peering back at you through the twine. Don't let him sway you, he means no good.) And I did just that, but not before taking a detour into the crawlspace.

I don't remember the last time anyone went up into the crawlspace, but if you calculate years by the number of seconds it takes for the rattle of dust and dirt to pour out of the corners of the crawlspace door and trickle down the attic stairs and finally come to a stop; clearly it had been decades. Another temporal indication would be the 70's-era shopping bag from Woodward and Lothrop department store, which had closed in 1995.

The bag contained parochial school papers I'd long forgotten, and if I had remembered them I'd assumed they were thrown out long ago. The cavemen photos, from the Smithsonian Museum of Natrual History, are most likely the first photos I ever made, for a school project on Neanderthal Man. I think they were taken with a Kodak Instamatic 110. Not bad. Although I'd grow into photographic influences like William Eggleston and Martin Parr, in these photos I see a budding Nan Goldin.

On the back of this drawing (the stains under the title at the top of the page are fresh sweat), I wrote "Eleventh Station [of the cross]," which is the Crucifixion. But I'm not sure even the advanced abstractions of what must have been my seventh-grade mind would have made the leap from crucifixion to a puppy caste system. It's not unlike an Adam Sandler movie.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

kitchen, 1902

kitchen, originally uploaded by a nameless yeast.

A 4x4 glass negative found at the Antiques Garage in Chelsea. Among the provisions on the kitchen counter are a couple of tins of Hooton's Cocoa.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

cemeteries of hernando county

Read about Spring Hill Cemetery on my ghost blog, The bloggy, bloggy boo.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

sheena take a bow

I've been weeding. I'll weed maybe a handful of books or CDs at a time, and with as much clutter as I've accumulated over the years that barely makes a dent. Because, despite what it says under my blog header, I hoard. Not on the Collyer level but I missed that by a matter of degrees, and I was perhaps only saved from that fate by a major termite infestation that required sorting out and throwing out 40 years of basement clutter.

Still, I buy books I never read and CDs and lps I never listen to and movies I never watch. I end up buying duplicates. With no discernible organizational system, I'm not surprised to find two copies of a book I've never read. What surprised me was the CDs. Despite having at least 80% of my thousands of CDs in alphabetical and categorical order, I still found five inadvertent duplicates - which doesn't count remasters of CDs I found filed right next to their original, arguably inferior but perhaps more valuable for sentimental reasons iteration. (n.b., If anyone reading this would like a sealed copy of the compilation CD, "Brazil Samba Jazz Vol II," with the Tamba Trio's terrific version of "Se voce se pensa," let me know.)

I hoard to fill the void, and I found absolute proof of that last weekend when I discovered, in the back of my closet, a bunch of empty boxes of various sizes, shoe boxes and shipping boxes that I thought I might need some day. Some of them must have been in my closet for more than a decade, and had accumulated several inches of dust. I took those metaphors to the recycling bin right away and I can walk in my closet now.

I've been weeding regularly, and I've made progress, and discoveries.

As I weed I come across things I forgot I had. One is a VHS tape of Sheena Easton's Act One special, one of dozens of tapes I scrounged from a video store's $2 closing sale several years ago. The program was originally broadcast on NBC in 1983 and captures a moment in the Scottish singer's career between the girl-next-MOR success of "Morning Train" and the tarted up persona of "Strut" and "Sugar Walls" (number 2 on the PMRC's "Filthy 15," right behind her collaborator Prince Rogers Nelson's "Darling Nikki.")

Act One is a strange piece of celebrity self-consciousness, with Easton trying on a variety of 80's fashions and identities only to fail to hide behind any of them. Maybe it's all that 80's make up, a Bonny lass hidden under a very pretty cakeface. She is not one of those performers who disappears behind her roles. Rather, Act One reveals that for Ms. Easton, as for many of us, as many disguises we try to hide behind, who we are will unmistakably shine through the cake.

Speaking of clutter, I happen to have a copy of Chambers's Scots Dictionary at my desk. Did you know that gardy-moggans are what they call long sleeves?

The first number "A song for you" serves as an overture of the major themes we will be exploring in the next hour; most strikingly, that of a Whitmanesque multiplicity and a personality in fragments (or shallmillens, as her people call them). Easton comes into focus from a black silhouette of her head against a stark white backdrop (apt echoes of Bergman's Persona). A soft-focus head shot dissolves into Ms. Easton leaning against some kind of prop box, mirrored on the other side of the box by her animus, or anima, or some androgynous harlequin mixture of both. Not that I'm suggesting anything.

As the overture comes to a close, the camera closes in on Ms. Easton pouting for the camera and attempting to look soulful and amorous underneath the volumes of 80's makeup; then she breaks out of character and asks somebody in the booth "is tha' akae?" Looking for approval. Over the studio intercom an unseen techinician tells her there was a glitch and they'll have to make some adjustments before they can continue with the production.

Ms. Easton then wanders through NBC back-stages killing time when she happens upon The Tonight Show set. A tarp is draped over the guest chairs but Johnny Carson's desk is open. Sheena takes Carson's chair and sets up the framing device for the rest of Act One, where she imagines herself a talk-show host. She interviews herself, surveying her career from the relatively subtle makeup of "Morning train" to today (then, 1983), never imagining the makeup she has in store. She also invites guest stars, including Al Jarreau and, naturally, Kenny Rogers, who joins her in a duet of "We've got tonight" in which you are forced to imagine that Ms. Easton would romp (rommie, v. to rumble, to beat. to stir violently) in the hay with that grey-haired beast simply because he's there.

It's when Ms. Easton takes her seat at Johnny Carson's chair that Act One begins to remind one of Werner Herzong's Grizzly Man. The documentary shows copious footage of the video Timothy Treadwell made in the wilderness as he tried to live with bears, but despite the magnificent natural backdrops and the danger we knew was coming, his tone struck me as that of a child putting on a private show in their bedroom. Ms. Easton put on that show for us in what indeed was only the first act of her career. It's a keeper.