The morning light takes its time
coming through the bedroom window.
It wakes me properly in the here and now.
Few books have come my way as generous and wise about writers and writing as this one. The title takes as its model the phonebooks of long ago. But forget that. Remember this: The author, A. Robert Lee, is a British-born, globe-trotting, retired professor now living in Spain, whose heavyweight academic credentials disguise a common touch so light that reading him feels as charmed as floating on air.
The late graphic designer, most famous for creating the I LOVE NY logo, had a strong dose of advice more than a decade ago for the propagandists among us — the marketers, advertisers, public-relations spinners and, yes, journalists — along with citizens-at-large facing an onslaught of political campaigns.
Why am I getting that ad on my device? / Alexa, I want a divorce. Did you hear me? / I can’t spell it out for you. No, don’t thank me. / Don’t wipe my nose. I can brush my own teeth. … If I were paranoid, I would spin bold tales / of grand conspiracies. I love those fantasies. / But they’re not my thing, though in fact / they’re not unreal. Please Alexa, do shut up. / Please disappear. You are unwanted here.
This short movie evokes the rich heritage of humankind’s creative responses to the natural environment over millennia. The creators of “water stone words” — filmmaker Ed O’Donnelly, sculptor Kenny Munro, and writer/poet Malcolm Ritchie — made the movie over a period of six days.
“Canadian-born multimedia artist and writer Clayton Patterson has lived through, and broadly documented, more of outsider culture and the evolving history of New York’s Lower East Side than anyone else of his generation. The virtually unseen archive of VHS and 8mm videos he shot there between 1986 and 2001 numbers over 2,000 tapes of astonishing diversity. … Always resolutely on the fringe, as a videographer he is best known for recording the battle between New York City police and protesters in the streets around Tompkins Square Park on the night of August 6, 1988, an event that led to multiple court appearances and appearances with Oprah and others on the talk show circuit.” — Ron Magliozzi, MoMA Curator Department of Film
“In striving for a sustained friction between the verbal and non-verbal in his practice, Gary Lee-Nova allows literature, theory, cartoon, occultism, science and music to inform and even collide in the work, but not to overtake it. And this balance is most evident when you look at his entire practice. As often as he strips down his pieces to foundational forms such as vibrating color bars, penetrating hectogons, and evolving pyramids, Lee-Nova visits with pop-culture formats like the cartoon strip, or art-historical tropes like the Dadaist riddle and the Surrealist collage. He plays with exhibition culture, as well, slyly labeling his sculpture with yet more meaning … It seems that as often as Lee-Nova is driving head-on for pure effect, he’s throwing in another dislocation.” — Sky Gooden
The books have become a worry.
They’ll live long beyond my need for them.
Looking at them this last evening,
The pages I chase, filled with fear,
Their words redacted by death
As colorful lines in time blacken
And I grow blind to the visions
That each volume contains with each year.
I would have to do nothing but read
Which I still can’t properly do at this moment . . .
— David Erdos
The Broad Museum in Los Angeles re-opens on May 26. It will include an “in-depth installation” of works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Roy Lichtenstein, Kara Walker, Andy Warhol, Christopher Wool, and others. Have a look at some of the Basqiats that will be on view. Totally punk. Well totally punk in its time. Now it’s historical. But it looks in pixel reproduction as fresh as ever.
It was a getaway / from the concrete city. / No bears alas / no porcupines alas / no mosquitos / no lyme-tick bites / one little fruit tree / knocked down by the wind / now gone alas / bears liked its berries / no deer alas
except one on the road / and there I was / alone alas. — jh