Friday, June 26, 2009

Rain is Good/Photos From the High Line

When I was growing up in the 1970’s, Washington St./10th Avenue from Gansevoort stretching north to 17th was derelict and devoid of life but for the meat packing plants in the daytime and a few sex bars at night. The High Line, an old elevated rail was mostly useful for the shade it provided on a hot summer day. In spite of that shade, parts of cow rotted beneath and for all the time we spent on the streets we stayed clear of there. I do have nostalgia for people, events and places of the period but this is halved by my memory of the very real squalor and decrepitude most of us experienced daily--and (as a charming offshoot of that poverty) an assault I suffered on a street nearby.

I first heard there was a movement to make the High Line into a legitimate people place several years ago. Given the difficulty of making and implementing any big idea in any big city, I can’t say I had high hopes. Now that I’ve experienced it, I feel a bit guilty about my meager expectation.

The realization of this ambitious plan is life-changing for New York. High Line designers James Corner Field Operations with Diller Scofidio & Renfro pay more than architectural lip-service to the origins and surroundings of the place they embrace every aspect and give it new life. Leftover decay (minus the stench) is glamorized and incorporated into it. The lightly fragrant plantings, the furnishings, the paving all integrate gracefully into sweeping views, what was before, is now and ever shall be.

Oh sure, a few people will come along and ruin it for everyone with tagging, battery or perhaps a drunken suicide or two, but in spite of them, New York has more than a lovely new park or tourist attraction, it has reclaimed a part of it’s history, re-invented a neighborhood, provided an experience, and built a peaceful monument to what hundreds of people can do together for the good old-fashioned enjoyment of all.

Congratulations to Robert Hammond and Joshua David who first created a community-based group called Friends of the High Line to promote the idea of turning it into an elevated park, the City of New York who threw weight and 50 million smackers behind it, Andre Balazs, who opened the Standard Hotel that straddles the line at W. 13th St. and thousands of people who donated their time and money to complete this phase (which cost 152 million).

If you are inspired by this project (or my pix), please donate, volunteer or show support in any way that suits you: The High Line

Sunday, June 07, 2009

What Rodney Bingenheimer Said

So the other night, I see Rodney at Canters. He took up his usual booth. Since I have a long time acquaintanceship with the Mayor, I stopped by the table, old Hollywood style. I tell him people have been coming to my blog lately searching out the following phrase which goes something like this:
What does Rodney think of the movie Mayor of Sunset Strip?
Given that query and the fact that the interview we did so many years back gets a lot of hits, maybe I should blog a few of his thoughts on the movie.
This is what he said about it:
"They made it look like I live in a closet. I have a big apartment. When they showed the front of my building they got a bum from somewhere and paid him to lie out in front for the shot. I don't like it. I've had a great life, a happy life. I used to be friends with Kim Fowley. We were friends. I don't talk to him anymore. I don't talk to Chris Carter, either.
Every time you see me there's this sad violin music. The DVD has some extra stuff, some happier stuff, but you have to look for it." That's the gist. Every silver lining has a cloud. Here's one of the things that bugged me. The movie is called, as you know, THE MAYOR OF SUNSET STRIP but they never tell you how Rodney got that name. Seems like a no-brainer that the filmakers would want to 'splain that, does it not? Anyway, if you want to know, read the interview Rodney did with me for the L.A. Weekly back in 1979.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Inner Space

This show is on my MUST SEE list. It's at Winkleman Gallery which is one of my favorite spaces. I hope you can make it there, too. Here's the Review from the New York Times' Ken Johnson:


‘White on White: The Pilot (just like being there)’


637 West 27th Street, Chelsea

Through June 20

Remember the space race? In the 1960s, going to the Moon and beyond was a galvanizing fantasy for millions of Americans and Russians. Now it seems a quaint artifact of a more innocent and gullible time.

In this vein, Eve Sussman and her collaborators, who go by the name Rufus Corporation, have constructed an evocative think piece: a meticulously detailed re-creation of the office of the Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first human to go into space and to orbit Earth. After Gagarin’s death in 1968, the Soviets made his office a museum, which Ms. Sussman visited, photographed and simulated so faithfully that it looks as if the real thing — including chairs, a desk, telephones, memorabilia and fake daylight coming through sheer white curtains from a false window — had been teleported to Chelsea.

Besides being an impressive feat of realism, the installation, which looks more antique than modern to a contemporary eye, invites meditation on the aspirations and disappointments of technological progress. The title, “White on White,” refers to the proto-Minimalist, all-white painting by Kasimir Malevich, and, by extension, to the once seemingly unlimited and now apparently stymied possibilities of human evolution.

This is a surprising and intriguing turn for Ms. Sussman, who is known for her cinematic re-creation of “Las Meninas” by Velázquez and modern film version of the story “The Rape of the Sabine Women.” She plans to use the Gagarin office as a set for a futuristic film noir. That should be something to look forward to. KEN JOHNSON

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Unfortunate name; Bangkok.

What was he thinking? Both heads tied together? Really? It disturbs me. This morning when I heard Carradine was found dead in Bangkok, I thought it might be a sex thing but I stopped myself. Why so cynical, I thought? Not every old white male who goes to Bangkok goes there to have freaky sex. Some guys just go there to see "The Giant Swing" (yes, the actual name of one of Bangkok's main tourist attractions) or to make a movie, RIGHT? Imagine my disappointment. I'm not one of those people who loves to be right, grasshopper. This makes me really blue, but I'm damn sure not going to suffocate.

Carradine Death Was Accidental

4 June 2009 3:05 PM, PDT

David Carradine died during a sex game that went wrong, according to sources in Bangkok, Thailand, where he was found dead on Thursday.

Carradine's body was discovered in a hotel suite and local reports suggested he committed suicide.

He was discovered by a maid, naked and hanged, but the suggestions his death had a sexual twist were strongly disputed by the star's close friend, attorney Vicki Roberts, and his manager Chuck Binder, who insisted he died of natural causes.

But a statement from Carradine's representative now indicates the actor died during a sex act.

The spokesperson tells, "We can confirm 100 per cent that he never would have committed suicide. It was an accidental death. Everybody is in shock."

Rumours Carradine died attempting auto-erotic asphyxiation - where victims achieve heightened sexual pleasure by restricting their air supply - are backed up by a quote a Bangkok police officer gave to British newspaper The Sun.

The cop tells reporters, "A rope was attached to his neck and also to his penis".

Rocker Michael Hutchence was rumoured to have died attempting the same sex act in a Sydney, Australia hotel room back in 1997 - although his death was officially declared a suicide.

Carradine was in Thailand to shoot new movie Stretch. He was 72.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Automobile May Die but the Road Goes On Forever

I laugh and cry more as I get older. Irony is harder to ignore. That's what usually sets me off. I first noticed this amped emotional onset a couple of years ago during the Marx Brothers movie Duck Soup . It was more than likely the 15th time I'd seen it. Just before the famous mirror scene, Harpo (dressed as Groucho) gets the combination to the safe. When he's found the safe he begins to work the dial but it's NOT the safe. During this particular viewing, my laughter morphed unexpectedly into tears. I had a mortal moment. I thought; what if I never get to see this again? I've never been too distant from thoughts of my own mortality but in this instant the idea both crushed and connected me to my self.

When life is sweet, it's hard to imagine that any alternative is going to be as good--and life is sweet for most of us in many moments regardless of the hardship, struggle, difficulty, cruelty we each endure. Having cheated death a few times, I've proved to myself how much I value staying alive. I think I value most what connects us to one another.

This is where David Lynch comes in. I like David Lynch. I like his movies and I like his weather report. I liked his Angriest Dog In The World and I like what he's done with his practice of Transcendental Meditation. I like the road he's on. Those of you who know my photographs, especially the Lonescapes, know I love the road. The road is process, not destination. America is often thought of in regard to it's love affair with the automobile but for most of us the car ain't jack without the road and the road goes on forever.

Personal stories have always moved me. Whether a person's story is expressed through their art or in conversation, there is always something unique and something universal, human.
When you have time, please look into what's going on here. I think there's going to be a lot of magic in this very real collaboration: INTERVIEW PROJECT Shared via AddThis

photo of David Lynch and Assistant by Lisa Jane Persky all rights reserved

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