June 20, 2006

I know sometimes I must get out in the light

Liz Hickok, Bay Bridge, 2005

Hickok: "This project consists of photographs and video, which depict various San Francisco landscapes. I make the landscapes by constructing scale models of the architectural elements which I use to make molds. I then cast the buildings in Jell-O. Similar to making a movie set, I add backdrops, which I often paint, and elements such as mountains or trees, and then I dramatically light the scenes from the back or underneath. The Jell-O sculptures quickly decay, leaving the photographs and video as the remains."

* From Harper's July 2006

-- Percentage change in anverage U.S. gas prices in 2005: +80

-- Number of times that President Bush's 'signing statements' have exempted his administration from provisions of new laws: 750

-- Total number of times for all other presidents since Washington: 568

-- Number of books that Art Garfunkel has read since June 1968, according to a comprehensive list on his website: 948 [seems low, no?]

-- Size, in inches, of Panasonic's new top-of-the-line plasma TV: 103

* Molly Ivans. excerpt:

"Meanwhile, the entire Department of Homeland Security is beginning to look like a Republican playground. According to The New York Times, over 90 former officials at DHS or the White House Office of Homeland Security are now 'executives, consultants or lobbyists for companies that collectively do billions of dollars’ worth of domestic security business.' Now isn’t that a dainty dish to set before the king?

"Can Republicans run anything right? Where is the CEO administration that was supposed to straighten out government? It may be that Bush deserves credit for having initially opposed a DHS, knowing that Republicans would make a giant new federal agency. But he later changed his mind and supported the thing. The rest of us thought we were getting an agency that would provide homeland security, but what an endless saga of misspent money, stupid decisions, waste, fraud, abuse and political logrolling—and still no port protection.

"It seems to me there is a direct connection between the Republicans’ inability to run anything governmental ('Heckuva job, Brownie'") and the fact that they don’t believe in government. The simplest purposes of government have long been defined for us—to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. It is, or should be, a benign enterprise, making life better for citizens.

"I carry no special brief for government—many years of studying the Texas Legislature will disenchant anyone. But if you are put in charge of government, the least you can do is run it well. Bill Clinton took government seriously—he was interested in how to make it work better, interested in government policy. Clinton declared the era of Big Government over and indeed pruned the federal structure and finished with a surplus. Bush is giving us fat, bloated, inefficient, corrupt government, all of it running on a huge deficit—not counting the expense and growing body count in Iraq. As the man said: '2,500 is just a number.'"

* Dust Congress fav Gena Rowlands had a birthday yesterday. As your present to her, watch A Women Under the Influence soon. An excerpt from a 1999 interview:

"When Gena Rowlands acts, it's like watching someone jump off a skyscraper and land on both feet unharmed. The riskier the performance, the more effortless it seems. Witness three of her favorite roles: the mad housewife in A Woman Under the Influence (1974), the stumbling-drunk actress in Opening Night (1977), and the gun-toting moll in 1980's Gloria."
"It's no coincidence that each of the three films was written and directed by her husband, John Cassavetes, who is considered the godfather of U.S. independent cinema. Starting with A Child Is Waiting (1963) and ending with Love Streams (1984), their mutual-inspiration society was one of the great collaborations in film history."
Everyone loves your performance in A Woman Under the Influence—

Rowlands: That's my favorite. We rented a little house in Hollywood and shot the entire thing there. We had the luxury of time. Without that pressure, it releases a lot of things in you. John would seldom answer a question about a character. He would say, 'I've given it to you. You own it now.'

Was there anything you did in that film that surprised you?

Rowlands: The parts where I get mad and go "Pffft!" and stick my thumb up in the air. I didn't plan that. I never plan anything physical. I had never done it before or since. John laughed very hard after I did that.

Did you base her on anybody?

Rowlands: Not in particular. But you base everything on people you know. [For that role], I remembered junior high school, [when] I would go to my best friend's house. Her mother was always pleasant, but classical music would be pounding through the house. Now that was very unusual when I was growing up. There was some strange tension in that house that did turn out very badly years later. I couldn't put my finger on it. I just knew there was something terribly wrong.
Something happier, then: Tell me about one particularly special day in your life as an actress.

Rowlands: It was when A Woman Under the Influence played at the New York Film Festival. It would be hard to top that. It was one of the most extraordinary nights of my life. We worked so hard on that movie. 'Who wants to see a movie about a crazy middle-aged woman?' was the general attitude we had to contend with. And then for it to be so well received was thrilling. For weeks afterward, every time I'd walk down the street, someone would come up to me and say things like 'That's my mother.' I began to think that behind every third door in America, someone is going crazy. But it was just wonderful that people were personal about it. That's what you always hope for when you do a movie.

* Warren Jabali spoke to Bob Nastanovich at the recent Sonic Youth show in DC:

Warren Jabali to Bob Nastanovich: "Seems like only yesterday that the Silver Jews were calling Sonic Youth's answering machine and playing tunes into it."

Bob: "Oh man yeah I remember that number by heart, 212-xxx-xxx. I should call it right now."

(Dials number with cellphone, gets answering machine)

Bob: "Hi, this is Bob and I think you might be living where Sonic Youth used to live years ago, this was their number, hope all is well."


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