Jon Moritsugu OnDemand

Posted in art, film, Uncategorized with tags , on July 7, 2011 by Victor

One of my college pals, Jon Moritsugu, is being featured on Comcast/Xnfinity’s OnDemand service during July.

While they bill the event as an Asian-American film showcase, don’t let that mislead you — Jon is an old-school, Hawiian, punk rock kind of guy — he’s all pop-culture, irreverent and often hysterical. Here’s the copy from the e-mail he snt out this morning: Continue reading

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1987

Posted in art with tags , , on July 2, 2011 by Victor

This is the Louvre Pyramid the way it appeared during the summer of 1987. Forgive the Robert Heinecken aspects of the image, but this was the most accessible copy of the thing I could find, given my storage situation. Also, I was young.

In 1987 and 1989 — my first 2 extended stays in France — I was interested in mistaken identities — I was this black guy discovering both Jazz and Egypt in Paris. Literally.I haunted the Ethnographic exhibits at the Musee D’Orsay, the Musee de L’Homme and whatever weird, antiquated, quasi-American staples I could lay my hands on. I recall becoming obsessed with Sarah Bartmaan, Miles Davis and Josephine Baker. I think that they were my patron saints.

(I’ve got many, many pictures of Egyptian mummies in French and British museums from this period. [This Virtual Egypt thing makes more sense in words than in photographs. I have pictures of ‘relics’ that I created to complement the pyramid image.] It was in 1987.

I’m also reminded that I had this half-thought-out idea of constructing some sort of virtual Egypt, Kiefer-like, where I’d have pictures of this pyramid, alongside a number of relics I’d recovered from a dump nearby the rural American school I was living at, there in Southern France (Lacoste).

Funny, odd, etc. — looking back, it’s a screenwriter’s sensibility I was missing at this time, to wend all of this material together — if I had thought about this images as the leftover artifacts of a story, I would have been able to complete this piece 24 years ago.

After having been to Ghana, I’m struck by an alternate interpretation — all new concrete construction in West Africa looks like this — simultaneously a ruin and a constuction projecct. Projects like this can take decades, simply because people are willing and able to stretch their projects out for years, because their banks don’t do mortgages the way we do here.

Perhaps, I can find a small projects grant somewhere, to help me to pay for this project’s completion?

Dennis Hopper 1936-2010

Posted in Uncategorized on May 31, 2010 by Victor

Dennis-HopperI’d gotten a hint of Hopper passing over the weekend, but didn’t bother to read the click-thru page after I clicked-through it last night.

Hopper dead? Wow. Tangential as he was to Hollywood history in 1984, he was, at the time of Blue Velvet‘s success, one of the first re-stars — one of those actors whose first stab at success had expired after a lengthy run, only to see that career revived after an appearance in an indedendent project. Continue reading

Fela biopic in 2011?

Posted in film, music on May 4, 2009 by Victor

Fela Kuti

Getting back from Ghana, I’ve been listening to a LOT of Fela recently. because of that article on Byrne and Eno — and how they comped much of the Talking Heads’ output from Fela’s Afrodisiac — really put me on a tear for hearing more of his music.

I can’t say that I’ve ever heard a more physical performer than Fela on Afrodisiac.The closest comparison I can render are those late-night Time-Warner Claaiscs commercials featuring James Brown weeping to “Please Please Please”, but unlike that American stuff, this is entirely upbeat, danceable music — the vocals transcend the song as they become an soulful plea yo participate in the music. Continue reading

Art Supplies

Posted in Uncategorized on April 14, 2009 by Victor

utrecht-logoI went out to get art supplies today — actually only drawing supplies, since I lost the 4 or 5 beautiful pieces of Arches cold-pressed 120lb. paper that I had leaning near my bedroom door.
Continue reading

Elmina and Cape Coast

Posted in art, ghana on April 11, 2009 by Victor

So, now that my pal Mike has offerred me a show this Fall — arguably, to show off some of the many photos I took in Ghana — I’ve started to think about some Ghana-specific work that I might create to put into said show.

One of the most compelling things I saw and experienced during my visit were the castles at Cape Coast and Elmina. These were two of the BIG fortresses involved in shipping 90% of the American slave populations fron Africa to the Americas. It’s one thing to read about such things and another to see them — and not in some bullshit, Alex Haley Roots kind of way. Continue reading

Fela Kuti vs. Talking Heads

Posted in music with tags on April 7, 2009 by Victor

I’m embarrassed to say it, but I’m about 25 years late on catching the Fela Kuti boat.

I remember I was in H.S. at GDS, when I remember one of my enthusiastic teachers going on about some kind of music someone was interested and how Fela could, “kick the shit out of that”. Granted, I was in H.S. at the time and likely jaded about anything anyone over 20 might have to say, but this teacher was one of the cool ones, so I took note.

And just last weekend, I read an article online in the Guardian, I read an interview with both Brian Eno and David Byrne, who were looking back on their earlier collaborations while promoting their new lp, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today.

As a jaded former new-wave art hipster, imagine my surprise when I read the following:

Byrne and Eno met for the first time in May 1977. Talking Heads were touring the UK as support to the Ramones, and John Cale took Eno to see the show in London. Afterwards, Eno invited Cale and Byrne back to his flat, where they sat and listened to records. Among the albums he put on was Fela Kuti’s Afrodisiac (1973), which would become the template for Remain in Light. “I was very excited about this music at the time and they were pretty excited too,” says Eno, “which was thrilling, because no one in England was at all interested.”

Wow. Afrodisiac was the template for what both was and remains one of my favorite Talking Heads albums? I was listening to that way back in those same H.S. days, when I was either getting ready to paint or looking for insptiration. Born Under Punches always truck me as an entirely sublime composition from the fringe of Western culture somewhere, some techno-tribal place in the future somewhere, because it was.

Imagine my surprise at reading Eno’s comment, and then tracking down a copy of the OOP Fela compilation that includes both Afrodisiac (1973) and Open & Close (1972). And yeah, Born Under Punches shares a great deal with the first track on Afrodisiac, “Jeun Ko Ku”. Similar percussion, similar use of horns and keyboards and I dare say more interesting than the Eno and Byrne collaborations which were derived from it, down to the Talking Heads’ Eno-less Speking in Tongues (1983).

Fela Kuti – Jeun Ko Ku
Born Under Punches

Not only had I missed the boat all these years, but I guess Brne really liked Kuti, past the point of imitation… Not only that, Fela was a decade ahead of the abruni.

America’s new wave musicians were inspired by a Nigerian prophet. Who knew?