Archive for October, 2010

California Dreamin’

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

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The launch of East of Borneo marks the convergence of two very distinct lines of thought. What is the nature, and the future, of art magazines? And how might we give form to the sprawling history of art in Los Angeles, a form that can be generative and productive, not merely descriptive or fancifully speculative? In retrospect I realize I have been mulling over these questions for decades, since first getting into the art magazine business with REALLIFE Magazine in 1978, and since first visiting Los Angeles in 1980

—Thomas Lawson

I am homesick already. Anyway, the first issue of this glorious new online mag features “Kalifornienträumen: Bertolt Brecht’s Los Angeles Poems and Other Sunstruck Germanic Specters,” an essay I wrote about Brecht’s Los Angeles exile and the lingering German influence in Southern California. Brecht’s thoughts? Well:

On thinking about Hell, I gather
My brother Shelley found it to be a place
Much like the city of London. I
Who live in Los Angeles and not in London
Find, on thinking about Hell, that it must be
Still more like Los Angeles.

—from “On Thinking about Hell,” Bertolt Brecht


Hot Like a House on Fire: Palatinate Mixtape

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

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Main Entry: place-name Pronunciation Guide
Function: noun
: the name of a geographical locality (as of a city or town) <little trace … of the Celts survived except in place-namesBavarian Palatinate>

Let’s throw states and nations in there as well, non?

(Inspired by Blonde Redhead’s “Oslo” on repeat, and repeat, and again. Also: Matthew Herbert.)

Oslo ////// Blonde Redhead

California ////// Joni Mitchell

Leipzig ////// Matthew Herbert

Ohio ////// Neil Young

Ohio ////// Modest Mouse

Sweet Georgia Brown ////// Alberta Hunter

Michigan ////// Ambulance LTD

New York ////// Cat Power

West Side ////// CocoRosie

Los Angeles ////// Ill Lit

Palm Springs ////// Matthew Herbert

Amsterdam ////// Peter Bjorn & John

Milan ////// Matthew Herbert

Barcelona ////// Will Oldham

And a mode of transport to get to all these places:

Sweet Road ////// Animal Collective

The River ////// Bruce Springsteen

River Boat ////// Big Youth

La Mer ////// Django Reinhardt

The Big Ship ////// Brian Eno

The Tractor ////// Bill Frisell

Helicopter ////// M. Ward

Pony ////// Ginuwine

Amtrak Blues ////// Alberta Hunter

Submarine ////// Bjork

Veronique Doisneau

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

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I can’t stop thinking about/replaying this dance piece by Jérôme Bel. It’s a sort of theatrical documentary on the work of a dancer, the wondrous Véronique Doisneau, from the ballet corps of the Paris Opera. It’s strange and gorgeous and—troubling. It suggests Peter Handke’s “Left-Handed Woman,” somehow. The electric terseness, maybe. I am jealous of everything about it. I was just IM-ing with a friend in California and she asked what it was about:

a jerome bel piece

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about the most amazing woman dancer

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really just a portrait

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of the artistic life

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and its disappointments

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and its glories

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and mundanities

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it’s kind of astonishing

And it is. Stills from it below, but one really must watch it (here; it’s in four parts). Doisneau’s poise and rigor; her witty acknowledgement of her beauty (“people often say I resemble Isabelle Huppert”); her call of “Bruno,” to turn on the music, which reminds me of Aleksandor Hemon’s first book, The Question of Bruno; her melancholy and irony of address. The staging; her panting and humming (very Glenn Gould–like) caught by the mic. I am completely struck.

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I have been collaborating with dancer and choreographer Alexandra Bachzetsis on an upcoming project of hers that will have its premiere in Basel and Zurich next February. Thanks to her for showing me this piece while we were working in her studio yesterday. “Bruno, can you put on the music, please?”

Fragment in The Last

Monday, October 4th, 2010

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My poem “Fragment” is featured in the newest issue of The Last Magazine, the lovely and oversized fashion and culture biannual mag out of New York. The always handsome and spellbinding Freja Beha Erichsen is featured on one of the two covers. The image paired with my poem reminds me of Ventura somehow (sans the lyrical yet apt Rodarte dress). Maybe the grayness. And the low set of waves rolling in. Makes me nostalgic for the beaches of my childhood, which are so utterly removed from the Rhineland landscape I am surrounded by right now. Many, many thanks to Aimee Walleston for asking me to give them a selection of love poems to choose from. The poem itself:

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List of Colors for Alexandra

Friday, October 1st, 2010

1. White Hills of Dover

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2. White Hills of VALIE EXPORT [from “Body Configurations in Architecture”]

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3. Blue Pools of LA [from Nine Swimming Pools, by Ed Ruscha]

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4. Red and Black Figures of Koudlam’s (and Gaillard’s) See You All

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5. Possible Uniforms in Which to Incorporate Your Green Umbrella
[from the Sartorialist and Dries Van Noten S/S 2011]

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6. Close Crop in Black and White [Bertolt Brecht]

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7. Green Hills, Blue Mirrors, White Dresses, White Hills, Dark Forms
[Inspired by Robert Walser]

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I am walking my green hills again. Blue mirrors
of lakes linger like glittery apprentices in their
valleys. In their reflection, I stumble, checking

my collar, dreaming lucidly of ladies
in white dresses that rustle and darken and stain
like so many flowers. The forest describes me

in its verticality, so many pines. Far below
pale sluices of sails prick and slide atop
their blue pools, like my collar. I am thinking

of some steady employment, a grotto, and a motto.
Many young men in service have them. Are attached
to them, like a collar. My throat constricts and I quicken

my steps. It is winter. I am walking my white hills
again, silver mirrors of ice lingering in glittery
apprenticeship to their valleys. In their reflection

I fall, cursing, singing, weeping. In their white
embrace, I lie remembering and remembering
and remembering. We are each the smallest lord,

directing the most minute of sails. We are each
this hill, green then white then dark with my form.

—Q. L.

8. Smell of: Purple Sage in California

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9. Blue and White of Greece [Amorgos]

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10. Past Gold Figures [Alexandra Bachzetsis‘s “Gold”]

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