Whatever the blowhard president of Trumpistan says in his official proclamation to honor Martin Luther King Jr., rest assured it is phony to the last pixel and not worth the time to read it. (To save you the trouble, here’s a sample: “My Administration works each day to ensure that all Americans have every opportunity to realize a better life for themselves and their families regardless of race, class, gender, or any other barriers that have arbitrarily stood in their way.”) And for the record let’s not forget that when King made his historic “I have a dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, it was hardly noticed by the nation’s most widely circulated newspapers. Have a look at King delivering that speech and be reminded of what they missed.
“I dreamt I could play the bicycle. This performance artwork plays with a number of themes, not the least of which is the continual contemporary pressure to present oneself as larger-than-life, in the hope that one might be noticed in a distracted culture. Of course the work also revels in those distractions.” — Kurt Wold
“At age 84, Plymell continues to write, publish and perform—“doing nuttin”, as he says—from his home in Cherry Valley, New York. His activities keep Plymell in steady correspondence with a crowd of like-minded hellions, including rockabilly’s Bloodshot Bill, Sonic Youth founders Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore, bassist Mike Watt, filmmaker Mark Hanlon, guitarist Bill Nace, photographer Philip Scalia and musicologist Byron Coley. Plymell and his wife, Pam, first happened upon Cherry Valley in late 1969 in coming to visit Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky at their East Hill farm. Moving there for good in early 1970, the Plymells have set into adding to their immense creative legacy.” – Benito Vila
This was it, Jan. 12, 2017 . . . It began like this: ‘On the day Twitter Fingers is sworn in as the preening el presidente of a tin-pot United States of Trumpistan, enabling him to run the country like a division of his family-held company . . . ‘ and continued with a 17-minute recording of Heathcote Williams reading his poem “The United States of Porn.” That reading alone puts the blogpost in a class of its own.
The print edition of the New York Times this morning made note of the “Corrections We Remembered in 2019” (see the renamed, redesigned online version), pointing out that correcting a mistake is “more than a procedural obligation … it’s ‘an ethical responsibility.’” In that spirit I might as well point out that The Times can screw up badly when its highly trained and forward-looking designers push the envelope too far, particularly in the print edition of the magazine.
A feature documentary about the impresario of the international avant-garde art movement Fluxus from 1962 to 1978. Interviews with artists include Yoko Ono, Jonas Mekas, and Nam June Paik. Dedicated to cooperative methods and expanded processes, Fluxus could be everything and almost anything: kits, shops, festivals, islands, weddings, food, or Flux Lofts—a network of artist-owned lofts in SoHo, New York. The iconoclastic George Maciunas and the spirit of Fluxus provoke questions still critical to many working artists . . . and a helluva lot of silly serious fun.
“So I sit there with earphones, mind you West End of forgotten City East of what used to be a shade of time. Let’s not get into that again… machine gun fire loud & clear… airplanes moving in low & forgotten now like battles in the Pacific… distant artillery for the Americans don’t forget that buddy… sound of Japanese commandos… & Germany end of July 45, 17 sec. past the deadline… sunny morning in Hiroshima, stones trees houses people dust… it’s the 15th with transcribed music… cracks in the record, the unconditional surrender of Hollywood to TV…” — Jürgen Ploog
“I was struck by poems made of lines that are poems all on their own—even as they unstack into melodic steps from top to bottom . . . Some are as spare as Chinese widsom. In Herman’s poems you know you are certainly ‘somewhere’ but maybe it’s somewhere only in atavistic memory, the realm of dreams. He writes with what Lavinia Greenlaw called ‘unsettled language,’ which brings less obvious aspects of imagination or observation to the fore . . . teasing, holding attention by where they might be heading. A doubtful adventure? A seductive noire? An obscene history lesson? And of course, mortality raises its knowing head more than once.” — Jay Jones
At the Cockpit Theatre in London: ‘His Last Cabaret’
Plus his poem, ‘When a Tower Falls,’ which carries on Heathcote Williams’s legacy, but in Erdos’s own key: When a society falls, what you notice first is the rubble, / Seen on TV, ghosted buildings give way to dust / Through bomb blast. Through the sudden heat and the haze, / You will see only the print of lost towers, fading with age: / Time’s fragmented, and your first tasted moments / Clash and mix badly with the afterburn and the bitter / Of what could well be your last. Of course, the world has seen / Towers fall through man made event, false god sanctioned, / But we seem to have made no true effort to rebuild or renew / What was lost. What we lack has been leased and sold again / To new builders who continue to falsify all around us / While tapping us still for the cost. …
Richard Kostelanetz has produced many titles in his Archae Editions line of books over the past eight years via Amazon’s print-on-demand publishing service. But a few weeks ago they suddenly disappeared from the Amazon site. He was shocked. When he asked to have them restored, he was informed electronically that they had been removed because they contained pornographic images. He disagreed. Nevertheless, he decided to remove the “objectionable” content. Even as he offered to do so, however, he was further informed that his entire Archae Editions account had been closed—permanently. He would not be allowed to publish in the future any Archae books whatsoever. Period. Full stop. End of story. Fuck you.
MoMA’s redesigned galleries have put some great previously unseen pieces on display, like Wolf Vostell’s antiwar art. Lipstick tubes replace bombs in a “widely circulated war photograph” of a B-52 dropping its bomb load over Vietnam. I won’t argue with MoMA’s explanatory description that Vostell was “equating mindless consumerism with apathy toward contemporary injustices and violence.” Of course he was. But I would go much further than those abstractions. Seems to me he was equating it with mass murder and genocide. Coincidentally, a friend sent me a 50-year-old “telegram collage” about the Mi Lai massacre of March 1968, which he happened to see in some library archive. No abstractions here.
“The art world has disfigured the legacy of the Puerto Rican Lower East Side artist Angel ‘LA2’ Ortiz by failing to acknowledge his contribution to Keith Haring’s work. Nobody has dealt with the racist issue of his exclusion from the Keith Haring legacy. Nobody of any consequence in the art world has the internal strength to deal with this ‘oversight.’ We all know what it is like to be cheated out of our rightful credit. But years’s worth of credit? Even though Ortiz’s art is clearly visible for all the world to see in Haring’s work? Ortiz has been cheated out of his credit in shows at prestigious museums, in books published by powerful institutions like the Whitney, and in credit left off Haring’s work at a world-famous auction house. Just totally ignored. Would that happen to a white artist?” — Clayton Patterson.
“This worldly, richly layered adaptation of Sinclair Lewis’s 1929 novel is one of the triumphs of the storied career of director William Wyler—and that’s saying a lot.” (New York Film Festival.) The chapter about the making of “Dodsworth”—and what went on behind the scenes—also was among the most pleasurable to write for my biography of Wyler.