Found

October 31, 2008 - Leave a Response

I have gained a new obsession with Found objects and the world of the discarded found parts of people’s lives, photos, sound, etc. Here are some interesting sites that feature these ideas. 

 

Found Magazine: The most famous found publication

Found Sound

Found Audio Blog

Dirty Found: People’s discarded dirty pictures and paraphernalia.

Lost and Found Sound: NPR’s found sound radio show

WFMU Beware of the Blog: WFMU Radio found audio/video/everything!

Tape Findings: Found tapes from the 1950s to today.

Internet Archives: Found sound section. Check out the rest of Internet Archives for all kinds of goodies.

UBU Web 365 Day Project: Some of the unintentionally funniest things you will ever hear!

Miqel.com Odd Records Archives: Weird records

Raphappy.com: More found tapes

Presidential Recordings Program: All the Presidents’ Tapes including the Watergate tapes.

Big Happy Fun House: Great found photos

Of Sound Mind: Found audio

Voicemail Project: Weird and funny voicemails

The Found Object

Fabrication De Bruit: Street art and graffiti 

Classical Emissions: More general found stuff

Least Wanted: Mug shots

Houseplant Picture Studio: Found photos with loud music in the background 

Mr. Balihai: Found Americana

Passive Aggressive Notes: says it all

Retro Thing: A great site for info on retro objects of all kinds

Square America: A gallery of vintage snapshots & vernacular photography  

Time Tales: Photos from different eras

Shorpy.com: Old photo blog

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Red Lions and Time Machines

August 30, 2008 - Leave a Response

I am sitting here watching Legends of the Fall. I’ve never seen it but I have heard good things about it. I have been in a retro mood lately, especially when it comes to the early 20th century, 1914-1945 or so. Its been more intense than my usual obsessions and has led to an ebay, book, music, and movie addiction about the period. I bought a gramophone and an antique style telephone as well as a few newsboy caps. I’ve begun and plan to continue printing out images to frame and put on my walls from the period. I wonder if this obsession will lead to the invention of a time machine. If anyone has any of the requisite parts. I would appreciate their immediate transfer to me. PO Box 664.

I should back up. My last posting I was wining about being at home jobless. That has indeed changed. I am now in Stockbridge MA where I have been since mid July. I got a job at a place called Chicago Albumen Works which specializes in historical photographic processes. That combined with a house that I am living in from the 1820s, in an apartment from the 1920s, all the vast history in this area, and just my general interest, it makes sense that I would be going into a retro mood. I am looking into cool stuff in this area. My friends Sean and John came up to visit me recently and John and I went to Tanglewood and listened to Beethoven’s 9th. It was an incredible performance, and the atmosphere was amazing.

I’ve also looked into this place called the Copperworks in Pittsfield. It is kinda like an artist and ideas community in a way and they show movies, hold concerts, and have a bike night where people get to together and bike around Pittsfield. They also have this interesting night called Doctor Sketchy’s where they hold a model drawing night with a burlesque theme every week. Kinda random, but definitely interesting at the same time. I went to the movie night and we watched this bizarre horribly awesome movie called Rad, a BMX movie from the 80s w/ Uncle Jessie’s wife of Full House fame as a BMX champion. AMAZING!!!!

My latest obsession: Absinthe. It is now apparently legal in the US after being illegal since 1912. I have learned that it was mostly banned because of pressure from wine companies in France, who after a bug infestation in the grape harvest had lost their mantle of national drink of France to Absinthe. Absinthe had become incredibly popular in France, Switzerland, The Czech portions of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Spain during the later half of the 19th century. The drink is often green (apart from Swiss “Bleu” Absinthe) because of herbs added to it. It is made from a mix of European herbs including Wormwood (whose ingrediants are said to give it hallucinogenic qualities. It was therefore known as the “green fairy.” It was popular especially with artists and intellectuals, from Degas, Manet, and Van Gogh, to Picasso. Each different country developed a different pouring ritual using different methods to dilute absinthe, as few can drink it straight. In the French method water is poured over a sugar cube sitting atop a spoon with holes in it. In the Czech method the cube is set on fire to carmelize the sugar and add to the taste of Czech Absinthe. Swiss Absinthe, which is clear, and skips the sugar only having a slow pour of water. All these methods give Absinthe its ‘Louche’ or foggy look.

As part of the smear campaign against Absinthe, propagandistic lies were spread portraying the drink is causing insanity. The whole basis of even the Hallucinogenic qualities of Absinthe is largely a myth. It is basically just an incredibly strong alcohol, usually 69-72 percent. The idea of this drink as dangerous spread until eventually Absinthe was blamed or all the nation’s (France) troubles and was eventually made illegal. The ban spread throughout Europe and then eventually to America. For many years Absinthe was only avalible from Switzerland in bootlegged form. Slowly as scientific fact replaced rumor, bands were slowly lifted and in recent years over almost all of Europe and Absinthe is now produced from the Czech Republic to Spain.

After years of rallying by two Swiss distillers and distributers the ban on Absinthe imports has been lifted in the US too. It is now available in some bars and over the internet from Europe. Absinthe is one of those substances with a fascinating history and its amazing that a drink so delicious (it tastes like licorice) was given such a bad rap!

Holding Pattern

June 19, 2008 - One Response

So I decided to start up my blog again, as I need SOMETHING to do in the meantime while I wait on hearing about the various jobs I applied for. Waiting is probably my least favorite thing. Right now I am waiting to hear from this company in Massachusets, called the Chicago Albumen Works, which is, as it might seem, not in Chicago, but the Berkshires. I really just want to get out somewhere, that isn’t my home town, but I’d even take my hometown if it meant I had a job.

In the meantime I have had much time to think and not think. I have gotten really into spirituality of the East-Asian variety, mostly Zen Buddhism and Taoism. I don’t want to label myself though. I feel like it is too easy to get nailed down to one way of thinking and I like to keep an open mind. Meditation, which is the main string through both of these belief systems, has really caught hold of me. It is the one way to stop the “rattling inside the skull” as Alan Watts puts it, so we can go back to our true nature, as a part, not separate from the world we live it. If there is one thing that has helped me more than anything else over the last few months, it has been meditation. As someone who often over-thinks problems, it is a nice change to embrace a type of practice that is completely dependent on experience over thought. 

I think probably the best person to listen to on zen, for those who are interested on eastern thought, would be Alan Watts. A lot of my close friends know about my Alan Watts obsession, and many have caught on to it, I think because he is simply so good at explaining these difficult concepts in a way that is easy for western people to understand and identify with.

http://www.alanwatts.org

I am also interested in all kinds of meditation practices. I am big into zazen or sitting zen at the moment but if anybody has any suggestions of interesting practices I would be glad to hear about them. 

In the meantime, while I wait to hear about jobs, I’ll just float about. 

I’ll leave you with a poem by the Japanese Buddhist poet Saigyo,

 

Trailing on the wind,

The Smoke of Mount Fuji

fades in the sky,

moving like my thoughts

towards some unknown end

 

The Wrong Kind of Indian

July 27, 2007 - Leave a Response

So my time in Washington is starting to wind down. Yesterday was my last at the Smithsonian for the summer and its weird think that in only a couple more weeks I’ll be packing up and heading home. I have alot to look forward to, but I’m sure I’m going to miss Washington after I leave. I’ll probably be back though.

One thing is definitely strange about staying in a unfamiliar place for long enough, it begins to become familiar. For many reasons, not only the fact that this city has been so good to me, I am completely comfortable and have really come to the conclusion that I am extremely lucky. I have been very well taken care of not just here, but all of my life. You just have to stop trying so hard to acheive something more, and then suddenly you realize this. Things seem to make sense, they seem more beatiful and relevant, and you are content. Its a wonderful feeling.

I’ve returned many times to various museums that are my local haunts. One of my favorites is the National Museum of the American Indian. This new museum is quite something.

amind.jpg

It looks like a cross between Frank Gehry and the Pueblos of the desert southwest. What fascinates me about this place is the amount of non-US visitors. There were alot of regular Indians there, the kind from India. It made me think maybe they had thought it was a museum for them; disapointing I’m sure.

What was more interesting is the amount of Europeans there. It seems like Europeans like to frequent places that are either overly European or American in their subject matter.

My bosses, five out of six of them, took me out to lunch the other day and we we all got beer and talked about drinking and office politics. Two of these guys are RIT grads, and it was weird to see how similar they were to my friends at school dispite the fact they are all twenty to thirty years older. I felt really nice, as it kind of seemed like I had been invited into the Sackler Photo Fraternity. I will stay in contact with them and really value their support and friendship.

The last few days have been excellent, and I’ve spent alot of time in favorite hangouts meditating and thinking. The other day I was sitting at the Hirshhorn’s gyser fountain thinking about really how lucky I am, in my family and friends and the support I’ve gotten. I really value it highly!

So its near the end and as I sit here listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival and Ryan Adams at the tipping point of my last year of college and looking to into what seems to be an ever-improving future. Doesn’t get much better!

Watching “The Shining” in Spanish

July 13, 2007 - 2 Responses

One thing I love about being in a new environment, especially one as diverse as a large city, is all the bizarre sureal things that tend to happen, when you least expect them. Just yesterday I went to my usual hangout, The National Gallery, where I like to spend my time. In the Chinese Jade exhibit of the museum I ran into a number of Chinese tourists, and a Buddhist monk. When I went the same direction as the buddhist monk, into these rooms decorated in 18th century French Roccoco style, I smiled at him, he smiled back and then walked by and squeezed my arm. Culture shock! You could get hit doing something like that in the US. Of course I wouldn’t hit a buddhist monk, but it was an interesting moment in cross-cultural differences.

buddha_lantau.jpg

Another surreal moment happened a few days earlier. During my lunch break I went and sat in the garden between the Sackler gallery and the Smithsonian Castle and began to eat my delicious overly-priced sandwich when what should appear but a little birde. He was just standing there, waiting for something. After a few minutes of this odd standoff, I thought I would experiment by throwing a chip at him, not maliciously of course. He grabbed it right away and flew off. He just wanted to hang out with me for a chip. Just then scores of birds started coming and doing the same, looking for some kind of free handouts.

These “welfare” birds as I like to call them didn’t want my friendship as I had hoped, just my jalepeno chips. (by the way, does a bird taste spicy food? maybe I got my revenge that way.) one by one they flew in, until there was a practical mob of these crumb vagabonds to deal with. And just as I had feared, when I ran out of food, they ran out of friendship, and flew away probably to find some other poor fool who would be looking for friendship from our feathered commrades and be met by chip extorsion. Shameful!

Everyone Should Come See the Human Zoo

June 28, 2007 - Leave a Response

So its been an eventful week in washingtonland. A new exhibition opened at the Sackler Gallery where I work, called Encompassing the Globe. It features art from all over the world produced and influenced by Portugese explorers and traders. Its HUGE! Apparently the biggest exhibition the museum has ever put on for some reason nobody I work with can figure out.

Its such a big deal, the president of Portugal came to visit last week and the secret service was out in force. It sounded like a madhouse, when he was apparently walking around the exhibit being flashed by thousands of flashbulbs, in a place mind you, that really shouldn’t have all those brights lights.

I walked around the exhibit myself and it is quite something. Maybe not worth quite the hooplah it had but still not too bad. The Portugese were quite wealthy and showed their love of art from around the world, influencing the creation of art from various world cultures.

mezoosmall.jpg

I went to the zoo this weekend, but not to see animals. Zoos seem like a real strange, antiquated, victorian way of looking at our animal brethren. Sometimes I wonder if we’re the ones really in the cages! ok, sorry.

monkeyzoosmall2.jpg

I went to a talk this weekend that was in conjunction with the exhibit Foto. It focused on Modernist film in central europe during the 1920s and 30s. The man giving the talk was a Polish guy who kept saying uhhhhhhhh….. instead of pausing, which was very annoying, however it was an interesting lecture, and some of the films were pretty cool. The last one was rather humorous. It was an ad for tires where the guy who made the tires was singing to them about how great he thought they would be as tires, and that he hoped he would keep the drivers of the cars safe from danger. Then the tire began to sing, about its duty as a tire, and the car too began to sing along. It was even better since the tire sang in a high pitched voice.

Today I went to the first day of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Every year the smithsonian puts on this festival showing cultures from around the world. This includes crafts, music, food! My kind of festival. The cultures this year are Virginia, Northern Ireland (my people), and the Mekong Delta (Parts of China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand.) This part was especially amazing since it is so removed from western culture. Amazing food, music, dance, crafts, everything you could imagine was displayed. It is definitely something I will go back to.

One thing did make me feel sorry for some of these professionals. The poor tibetans were dressed in full garb, including fur hats, boots, and layers of decorated fabric. The heat was incredible, reaching almost 100 degrees. It seemed unfair that all of us were hanging out in our loose fitting, light clothing, as we watched these people dance around in clothing made for the sub-freezing temperature Himalayas. The Thai performers on the other hand, looked pretty comfortable. This weather must not be too unlike their native climate’s.

I will be photographing the events for my museum, so there will be pictures up you can look at showing the festival in all its glory.

Ballerinas, Cardinals, and Modernist Cars

June 18, 2007 - Leave a Response

One thing DC is a gold star for is art. I think I could live in the national gallery if they let me. I don’t think I am any happier than when I’m around really expensive huge paintings of religious, allegorical, and secular scenes, and marble busts of church officials and kings from centuries ago. My new obsession is sculptures by Degas. He sculpted these beautiful images of ballerinas, horses, and women bathing. They are so small and delicate, yet they have a very high emotional quality; just gorgeous. It reminded me also of how I have always wanted to date dancers. No elaboration neccesary. There painting collection is just jaw dropping and certaintly a national treasure. They have the only Da Vinci in the United States and a really nice collection of Impressionist works. For those out there interested in either landscape photography or photojournalism, you should definitely check out some impressionist work as they virtually invented many of the ways we frame these photo styles today.

One exhibit I checked out the other day is definitely worth seeing for anyone who comes to dc is the modernism exhibit at the Corcoran. The modernists developed movements in the hope of creating a modern utopia through functional design. This huge exhibit takes up most of the museum and shows the various movements from every conceivable angle, including futurism, de stjil, constructivism, the bauhas, purism, and other movements, as well as the influence modernism had on other movements and popular culture, its focus on, minimal decoration in favor of pure form, the perfect human body and its co-opting by fascism and communism, and finally by modern culture in the form of the international style developed in the US in the late 1930s that still remains the standard form of contemporary architecture today. Really fascinating. At the gift shop I bought “utopia soap,” which promised vitalilty and in a perfect world. Awesome.

Its hot as hell in DC right now. Up in the 90s. I hope to visit some of the neighborhoods like Georgetown and Adams Morgan this week and get some of the flavor of this multicultural city. At the same time I will definitely be returning to view more art. There is so much, its ridiculous. At least I’m not bored yet.

Asians LOVE the Jefferson Memorial

June 16, 2007 - One Response

I had a prolific day of exploring in dc today. I dont like to say sightseeing cause thats what tourists do. I went to dupont circle (which was too crazy for me) chinatown (kinda sketch) and then went to the aquariam (not worth the $5 they charge you.) I had thought to myself, “Fuck the White House, I wanna see some fish!”

After being gravely dissapointed in fish quality I did walk past the white house and saw every memorial. Visiting the memorials was kinda a strange experience for me, because it didn’t effect me in the way its supposed to. It was moving and all, but I didn’t feel like an american is supposed to feel. I felt like someone from another country visiting the memorial, there was an odd emotional distance.

There was some obnoctious singing, that I thought took away from the power of the places. Some of that mcdonalds, walmart style patriotism, where people walk around singing stuff they don’t really know the meaning of. I was particularly sickened when I heard the classic “I’m glad I live in America cause at least I know Im free.” It made me feel nauscious.

I was moved by the Jefferson memorial more than others, because its in a very serene place in washington, sort of away from the crazier parts of the mall and downtown. Two things struck me as particularly interesting. Just like Lincoln, there is a huge statue of Jefferson inside the memorial, however I have never seen a picture of it. Secondly it seems like Asians love the Jefferson Memorial. That probably helped draw me to the site, as I love being around asian people. can’t explain why, I just do.

I love three things so far in washington, besides all the awesome free museums, and the plenty of things to see and do. One is watching tourists. Its like watching animals at the zoo. One tourist I spotted taking photos of the escalator at Woodly Park Station. I can’t imagine him looking back on that with fondness. Golden memories of metro stops is not something I can relate to. They take photos of literally everything. Many tourists here are easy to spot because besides looking completely lost with an expression of dumbfoundedness on their faces, they often where similar outfits or in the case of many tour groups, the exact same outfit. I don’t mean to pick on these people, its just funny to me.

Secondly I love to try to make my way into the backgrounds of as many tourist photographs and videos as possible. I take it as my sacred duty. Thirdly, this game I invented called spot the prostitute.

In Washington everything is so epic. It reminds you of just how powerful our country really is. It really is the modern Rome. You can just feel power and wealth oozing out of every institution in the city (except the aquariam of course).

After a recent trip to the Air and Space museum, seeing a plane that was used for a transantarctic flight I’ve decided that I want to travel to Antarctica and maybe get a job as a photographer. I think that would be a really unique thing to do, and one that very few people ever get to experience themselves.

I plan to continue writing more about my time in DC and the job at the smithsonian etc. It really is a cool experience for me and the beginning of a hopefully long life of exploring the world.