Monday, July 13, 2020

Naya Rivera 1987-2020

interior of notebook covers flat and standing. Mixed July 2020

Monday, July 06, 2020

Ennio Morricone 1928-2020

Truly one of the greats. 

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Midnight Diner. Netflix

Just finished season one of this utterly delightful series with episodes that are only 24 minutes long but filled with marvelous characters and food. The Diner in Tokyo is run by a mysterious chef with a scar down his face who opens his diner from midnight to 7 the next morning and only has three choices on his menu but will serve and make anything for a customer as long as he has the ingredients on hand. Who doesn't have seaweed laying around. The customers are all eccentric and charming and the episodes always end with a quick recipe for the dish was was served. There are wonderful details on all things Japanese which is right up my alley because I love all things Japanese. I was once nominated for a national endowment grant to go to Japan but didn't get it, a big disappointment. Most of the show takes place in the diner so don't expect a tour of Tokyo but if you want to learn how to take apart those wooden chopsticks or how to serve up those packaged Ramadan noodles in new ways then this is for you.

Friday, July 03, 2020

June 2020 mixed on paper

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Carl Reiner 1922-2020

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Milton Glaser 1929-2020

The great designer, illustrator, artist has passed. When I was a late teen and looking for job in advertising and graphic design. I brazenly left my portfolio with Push Pin. I got a call to come up and meet with Milton and Seymour Chawst. Both were very nice and encouraging to this hungry ambitious teen, but of course they didn't hire me. My portfolio which I still have is an 8" x 5" sketchbook that I filled with collage, photos and ads. It always got me in for interviews and a few jobs.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Joel Schumacher 1939-2020

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Rear Window 1954

This thriller by the great movie maker Alfred Hitchcock is everybody’s urban nightmare,  being trapped alone in a tiny apartment during a summer heat wave with a broken leg and no ac or have I got an apartment for you. James Stewart in middle age mode plays the entire movie in a wheel chair nursing a broken leg received in a racing car accident. No he wasn’t driving he was photographing it and we can imagine how bad it was by his smashed camera and his leg in a cast. We see  personal details that Hitchcock introduces us to as clues to his career and life. This is done in a long opening pan of his apartment and beautifully tells us who Stewart is without any dialog just images of his belongs. A pile of Life Magazine’s with a photo of his on the cover, the original negative sits nearby in a frame, that busted camera, and other personal items that let us know that Stewart is a well established photo journalist who is caught napping by us in the hot 94 degree heat of a New York City summer.

The cramped cluttered apartment’s bamboo curtains are raised as if they were theatre curtains (this metaphor is also used in the opening credits) and we are about to see a play. The first act begins and the movie audience and Stewart can see into the various windows of his neighbors across the courtyard from his apartment, which is located in Greenwich Village. At first its just casual voyeurism he’s bored, but soon it develops into more serious peeping with Stewart using high powered binoculars to spy on a group of various typical and ordinary big city dwellers as they go about their everyday lives. A composer sweats over a composition as Hitchcock in his cameo winds a clock in the musician’s studio, a female dancer stretches and moves, a lonely women fantasizes about a gentleman caller, a husband and wife argue, young newlyweds move in and Stewart stares through his binoculars at these stereotypical New Yorkers sharing what he sees with us.  African Americans and Gays are nowhere to be seen even though it’s the village, but it is also America in the early 50’s so they are invisible. Popular songs of the day are heard, and played from radios and record players along with music waffling out from the composers studio amid the usual busy noises of a big city.

The main focus of the film and Stewart’s attention will be on the arguing husband and wife as he gets massages and wisecracks from his visiting nurse played with her usual comedic flair by the great Thelma Ritter We also meet his lady love in a remarkable dreamlike close up as she slowly comes in focus and plants a kiss on her sleeping prince. This may be one of the most sexually charged moments in American film, at least for the conservative 50’s besides being one of the most breathtaking. The lady is also breathtakingly beautiful. Grace Kelly who in her third film of the year and on her way to an Oscar plays a top notch high society fashion executive consultant who is herself a one woman fashion show decked out in beautiful Edith Head clothes and is a nice sidebar to the film.

Her relationship with Stewart is rocky, she wants to marry him, but he is hesitant and even distant with her, and their relationship mirrors a few of the relationships seen and heard floating over the courtyard and through his window and binoculars.  The other star of the film is the set, a remarkable fake exterior of what Hollywood thought a Greenwich Village dwelling would look like. It’s like a big slice of cake, with all its layers exposed for us to look into. We get a little glimpse of the street but everything important takes place in Stewart’s apartment and what he sees from his rear window. From inside his cramped apartment to the outside and back inside it’s a remarkable achievement of art direction, cinematography and of course direction. The crux of the film is a murder that Stewart believes was committed by one of his rear window neighbors and at first he has trouble convincing us, Kelly, Ritter and most of all his old war time buddy now a detective played by the dependable but dull Wendell Corey of his theory that a murder may have happened.  Needless to say they eventually come around to his theory and his convincing them is also part of the fun of this marvelous movie. There is plenty of cat and mouse especially during the last part of the movie along with the murder of a pet, a lit cigarette glowing in the interior of a dark apartment, a scream and a crash,  some welcomed humor mostly supplied by Thelma, and beautiful camera dissolves from a soaking fast summer rain storm to a sleeping Stewart in his chair who misses an important clue that is known to us.   The screenplay by John Michael Hayes is based on a short story by Cornell Woolrich that I recall from my reading of it years ago is sparse and not as rich and full as his screenplay and the film is. Pivotal characters are missing. The movie can also be seen as a horror film especially in last minutes of the final act, when the villain can also be seen as a monster, especially to a 7 year old which was how old I was when I first saw it a my neighborhood Loew’s.  So in the end the heat wave breaks, a killer is caught and life with some changes in the apartments across the courtyard goes on. Nominated for only four Oscars, director, screenplay, cinematography,  and sound recording it should have been nominated for many more. One of the ten best films of the year.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Ian Holm 1931-2020

The great actor Ian Holm has passed, but Donald Trump still walks this earth. Unfair

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Work on paper June 2020

Friday, June 12, 2020

New work. Clay and mixed on paper June 2020

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Perfect viewing for hot summer nights. Queer Eye and Hoarders.

Believe it or not both shows have a lot in common, and I've been watching one episode of each show per night on Netflix. I've known many queer eyes and a few hoarders and I haven't decided yet which are the scariest. As a book dealer I've been to a few hoarder nests and what they have in common is a lack of electricity or the ability to cook for themselves since the kitchens are long gone. I visited one mail artist some years ago because he wanted to sell me some stuff. Never mind it was pitch black in his creepy joint and I got out of there real fast when things on the floor started to move towards me.When I got home and looked at what I bought most had water damage. A common thing I've noticed with hoarders in NY is they collect the Sunday Times which they never read, and they just pile up and they usually have a bicycle somewhere in their mess that they never ride. The bathrooms are bio hazard sites and no doubt a cure for corona can be found by scraping their toilets or bathtubs. Most of the hoarders I knew were borderline cases, on the border of planet debbie and no man's land. I'm not talking about messy artist studios here, all artists are pigs under the canvas, can't be helped but the ones who are dangerous and this show presents them in all their misery. The most famous hoarders from our city were of course the adorable Collier Brothers who were actually buried under their trash in their uptown brownstone in the 1940's. My upstairs neighbor a nice old Irish lady was a hoarder she lived in the apartment without lights no stove and clutter everywhere. I was worried about a fire. They finally put her in a home and her nephew asked me if I wanted anything, well sure, except it was pitch dark in her place and they were cleaning everything out the next day so I passed. I have enough of my own stuff. I'm not a hoarder and after watching an episode I frantically jump up off the couch and start cleaning. There isn't much I can throw out. Well I guess I can dump all my art. Hoarders are not collectors they just hoard without an eye for collecting the good from the bad. I mean the few shows I've seen have been beyond shocking, you can almost smell the rot. Each show is basically the same, they seem to take place in the mid west or out in washington state and they follow a certain style and formula, including a shrink always on call and family members who look like refugees from a worn torn country. They look shell shocked. I always watch with my queer eye hoping to see something I would like, or that Linda, or Mary or Hal should save for what I don't know. I would love to see a show or two focusing on urban hoarders.

Sunday, June 07, 2020

New work on paper June 2020

Thursday, June 04, 2020

Oddball Magazine June 2020

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Bruce Jay Friedman 1930-2020

Monday, June 01, 2020

Anthony James 1942-2020

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Christo 1935-2020

Saturday, May 30, 2020

The Eddy 2020

Finished watching the eight part miniseries on Netflix last night call “The Eddy”. Set in a run down large jazz club in Paris I had mixed feelings about it. Some of it is forced and predictable with its run down plot that includes all the usual devices one would expect from a show about jazz and the musicians who play it. The main men behind it are Damien Chazelle and Alan Poul with writing credit going to Jack Thorne who fills it with so much stress and angst that I nearly laughed at some of it.  The plot thins and thicks off and on but the original music is nice, although I would have preferred some classics thrown into the mix, but I can’t fault them for this. The cast is large and is by and large quite good especially the great Andre Holland as the once famous musician and co-owner of the club, who has a lot on his plate including his pain in the ass but gorgeous teen daughter who comes to live with him, played by Amandla Stenberg ,there were times that I wanted to strangle her. Also on board is Joanna Kulig as the chanteuse of the club and is in danger of being type cast in this sort of role. She also cast her considerable talents in the terrific “Cold War”, which has some thin connections to this series . The show’s eight episodes focus on some of the individual members of the band along with several non band characters. There are dirty deals, drugs (of course) a gay character (of course) and a few murders and nasty types. The running thread is the over used plot device of family usually of the dysfunctional kind, and the show is loaded with them. Mothers fighting with daughters and  sons, brothers fighting with sisters, fathers taking on daughters and on and on. Still it has nice atmosphere, Holland’s eyes and Kulig’s open toe heels,  so I can say sure check it out especially good for the coming long hot summer.

Friday, May 29, 2020

The Pajama Game 1957

Love and labor problems in a pajama factory, and as Godard called it  “the first left-wing operetta. Bright and shinny and easily one of the best movie musical adaptations of a hit Broadway show to come out of Hollywood.  Lifted intact with most of  the original cast from the show, with the main exception of one, and that one was a huge asset named Doris Day who replaced Janice Page. Day plays the head of the grievance committee at Sleep-Tite pajama factory where she toils in bright colorful outfits, she is perfection as Babe Williams with her beautiful voice and indelible screen presence and that 50’s butch hairdo of hers, which by the way I loved.  This was a star. I should say right here and now that she was my favorite “star” as a kid and young teen. I had huge scrapbooks on her, many of her LPs, and saw every movie she did, including this one that I saw at 10 at Radio City Music Hall. The memory of that Day lingers.  The musical and the audiences were lucky in many ways.  One big asset (besides Day) is its well remembered songs written and composed by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross some of which become big pop favorites and standards including “Steam Heat”. Wonderfully performed at a labor rally by the great Carol Haney and 2 male dancers which is pure Bob Fosse down to the male attire they wear. This was Fosse’s first broadway musical that he choreographed and happily his achievement is well documented in this film. Another standout is the out of doors picnic number “Once A Year Day” that is exuberant and again shows off the great talents of  Fosse and Haney along with the large chorus of dancers and singers. It pretty much pops off the screen. I can’t think of another musical up to that time, and maybe even afterwards that used an actual outdoor setting for a musical number, certainly not as brilliantly as this one. Haney won a Tony for this show, and sadly she died young but we do have this film as a lasting testament to her enormous talent. The show is also notable for giving Shirley MacLaine her big break when as Haney’s stand in she had to go on for her one night, and Hal Wallis who was in the audience, signed MacLaine up, the rest they say is movie history.  Also terrific is “Hey There” which is sung by John Raitt who plays the new superintendent of the factory and later on in a sad redux by Day. Their romance bumps and all is the stuff of musicals and is well handled here.  Vividly designed with imaginative set design especially  the factory itself which looks like a conceptual art installation what with all the neon lit signage noting staircases, restrooms and offices. Also top notch are the bright pastel colored costumes and the rich color saturated cinematography shot by the great Harry Stradling.  The film was co-directed by George Abbott and Stanley Donen who was known for his collaborating with others most notably with Gene Kelly for “On The Town”,  “Singing In The Rain” and “It’s Always Fair Weather” and again in 1958 with George Abbott for Damn Yankees. The wonderful supporting cast includes the great  Barbara Nichols, Reta Shaw and  Eddie Foy Jr. One of the best films of 1957.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Irm Hermann 1942-2020

Fuck damn shit. One of my favorite actresses has passed. and the fuck with the fat orange face still walks this earth. sick of this already.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Oddball Magazine From May 3

Larry Kramer 1935-2020

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Richard Anuszkiewicz 1930-2020

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