Monday, December 3, 2012

Bish Bosch Is Out Today! The Genius Of Scott Walker, And Other Records I've Liked In 2012



 Today sees the release of Scott Walker's new album, Bish Bosch. I've been awaiting it for about a year, ever since I've seen a picture somewhere of a double bass laying around in a recording studio and someone mentioning it was for "Scott Walker's next record".

I would have a lot to say about Scott Walker in general and about this record in particular, but I'm in the throes of relocating abroad and don't have much time today. So I'll just say it's a great record, more diverse and less austere than The Drift.
I've seen a lot of comments about the record and about Scott Walker ever since a couple of songs have been previewed in November, and since some asshole released the  album on a torrent two weeks ago (may Godzilla fry your ass, you jerk who did that), some very enthusiastic and positive, some downright dismissive.

The naysayers tend to categorize Noel Scott Engel [Walker]'s music as "impenetrable" and "inaccessible" or, supreme anathema, "pretentious". All I can say is that if you don't like things of beauty that are experimental, not melody-driven, and so far out there that nobody else makes music similar to it, then by all means go back listening to Justin Bieber and Nikki Minaj, and feel put out because you can't read beyond 6th grade level.
It's not because it's intelligent that it's "pretentious", and wearing your unwillingness to make an effort as a badge of personal courage squarely puts you in the imbecile category, if you ask me. I know you didn't, sure, but if you can't get into Walker's music, just say it, there's no shame about not getting into something. And as for Walker's music itself, it's nowhere near as pretentious as James Franco believing he's a poet/artist/actor, you know?
Meanwhile, Farmer In The City is one of the most beautiful song I've ever heard. Sorry for you if you can't appreciate it.

As for myself I came to like his music via Tilt, not though his early Walker Brothers output, and I don't find his records any more impenetrable than, say, Coltrane's music. If there's an audience out there for Björk or Swans or Sun 0)))  then I don't see why people can't get into Scott Walker. Personally I find the success of Lady Gaga or, in indie circles, of Grimes or Alt-J incomprehensible, so there you go.
Anyway, just do yourself a favor and go buy Bish Bosch and get through a really amazing experience.

All of this to underline that 2012 has been an incredibly great year for music, so if the end of the world does happen in just a few day (bring it on!), we will have gone with a bang.

 I see tons of websites and also personal friends  are releasing their "best of" records for 2012 just now, even though the year isn't over yet. I don't really have any best of so I'm just going to list what I really enjoyed that came out this year, without any particular order. Also I'm sure I must have forgotten some records because all my music is currently stored in crates loaded on an ocean freighter and I won't see my LPs until early next year,

Please note that because I'm not in the United States right now, I don't have good independent links at the ready for the records I'm listing. For convenience sake I linked a lot to Amazon but by all means, please go buy your records in person at an independent record store, or buy directly from the labels, and if you are in the United States remember that Amoeba offers you free shipping. They also ship worldwide (for a fee), if you are abroad.


Records I really loved and made my life so much richer in 2012:

- Leonard Cohen, Old Ideas

- The Raveonettes, Observator

- Richard Hawley, Standing At The Sky's Edge

- Dan Deacon, America

- Scott Walker, Bish Bosch

- Swans, The Seer

-  Willis Earl Beal, Acousmatic Sorcery

- The Chromatics, Kill For Love

- Liars, WIXIW

- Japandroids, Celebration Rock

- The Jazz Butcher, The Last Of The Gentlemen Adventurers

- The Monochrome Set, Platinum Coils



Albums I liked but somehow expected to be somewhat better

- John Cale, Shifty Adventures In Nookie Wood

- Alabama Shakes, Boys and Girls

-The Beach Boys, That's Why God Made The Radio



- Albums and boxsets I haven't had the opportunity to get this year, and I'm too broke now:

- Patti Smith, Banga

- William Basinski, The Disintegration Loops

- Can, The Lost Tapes

-  Pauline Oliveros, Reverberations

- Sauna Youth, Dreamlands

- Meshell Ndegeocello, Pour Une Ame Souveraine

- Jah Wobble & Keith Levene, Yin & Yang

- Django Django, Django Django



PS: I don't know if you guys can see the video for Scott Walker's Epizootics I've attempted to upload. I see it on my dashboard but not in the post preview. I've been having this problem for a while now, even though I'm using 2 Google products, Blogger and YouTube. Go figure.





Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Quick News Here And There



Hello, patient, decimated but still beloved leadership,


A quick post to let you know there won't be much on here for a while until early next year, when FBC! will have relocated to Europe. Things are going to be very chaotic for us at the FBC! headquarters for a few months, so please bear with us until we're stabilized.

So, what's new? In just about a few weeks, we will launch an Indiegogo to help fund an extensive writing project of ours and cover some research expenses (namely travel and buying books). Please stay tuned, pass it around when it comes up, and if you can contribute a little something we would be most grateful. It will likely take 2 to 3 years to complete (because we don't have a trust fund at FBC! headquarters so research and writing will have to be done on weekends) so you will have to be patient

More immediately and closer to us in Los Angeles, Juan Capistran just opened his solo show White Riot at Tom Solomon's gallery in Chinatown. We've been long-time fans but this show is really awesome, very tight conceptually and visually. Also impossible to photograph if you're not a pro, so take my word for it. Basically, if you like rigorous artist such as Jack Goldstein, Jennifer Moon, Analia Saban or Matthew Brannon you should love this show. Go see it!

The Kenneth Price show at LACMA seems interesting too, but we haven't seen it yet.

Musically, 2012 keeps on being great with the latest releases of The Raveonettes, Dan Deacon, Swans, the upcoming interpretation of Nico's Desertshore by Throbbing Gristle, John Cale's new record,  and the announcement of the December 3rd release of Scott Walker's  Bisch Bosch.

That's all for today, and thanks again for your patience,

the FBC! staff

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Some Music News - New Releases And Live Gigs



Yo, beloved readership,

FBC! is still dormant for the art part - too busy writing something else to write on here - but we're still listening to music at our headquarters.

So in case you don't know it already, this week Swans has released a major, major record, The Seer while Dan Deacon's America is a pretty epic album (in the literal sense of "epic", it tells a majestic if conflicted story). And Richard Hawley's latest is finally available in the US.

Also John Cale has released a new video* for his upcoming record, the one with the absurd title Shifty Adventures In Nooky Wood.  The first leaked track, produced by Danger Mouse, was kind of meh, whereas this one is pretty good, so I'm getting excited about the record. Hopefully it will be possible to preorder the vinyl from the Domino/US site soon because at 30 GBP + postage it's prohibitive right now. Now please someone, have Cale record the excellent A Day In The Life Of The Modern Cold somewhere. He's been playing this song live for the past few years but alas it is absent from the tracks listing of the new record (out October 1st).

Locally, FYF is happening this weekend and I'm not going (too busy + I hate sets that last only 45 minutes) but with Liars, Dinosaur Jr., The Chromatics, James Blake, John Maus, etc. the line up is exciting, and it's only $89. Metro is running until 2 AM, so if you're fortunate to live near a stop, that's an option.

What else? Oh yes. Patti Smith will play at the Wiltern October 12 (tickets on sale next week). And before that Swans plays at The Fonda on Sept. 11 (and I'll be out of town, snap!).

And this Saturday, there will be a performance by Scott Benzel and Mark Hagen in homage to Mike Kelley, at LAXart.





*I tried to embed the video above, not sure it worked, the html does show up on my dashboard but each time I've tried to upload videos recently they were as invisible as our President being berated by Clint Eastwood at the RNC.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

FBC! Will Be Dormant For The Rest Of The Summer




Howdy, thin but devoted readership!

This short message is brought to you by my cat, who you can see napping above with a favorite toy. It's Summer, FBC! Central has some other stuff to do, so barring any emergency or weird coup like a ditched Deitch  or a broad sweep of the Board at the MOCA sinking ship, there won't be any writing of note on here for quite a while.

The FBC! headquarters will be busy with many things not directly art-related save for a massive writing endeavor of the print variety that should keep us occupied for about a year and a half,  so we don't foresee much blog writing for several weeks, or even for a few months. There might be some fundraising appeal on here for that project in the next few weeks but that should be all.

Lastly, I had tried to write a blog post about how fantastic the Jack Goldstein retrospective at OCMA was but somehow that draft kept on turning into mud. So I will only urge you to drive down and see it, because it's amazing. And if you live in NYC, happiness will be bestowed upon youse as well, because the retrospective is going to the Jewish Museum in the Spring.

Ah, and incidentally, FBC! is 5 years old, yeepee! Not sure it will live to be 6, to be honest...

Have a great end of the Summer ya'all.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Incidents Of Time Travel In The MOCA Drama




[Note about the following blog post: it was written about 3 weeks ago for another online publication operating as a journal, and finished on July 5th. As every day brought a new series of articles, op-eds, letters to the Los Angeles Times (LAT),  articles in the national and international press, etc.  the journal small staff was overwhelmed and the article wasn't published. I'm posting it now with permission from the editor, unadulterated and without any updating, save for a few grammatical edits here and there.
It is written in my normal academic style, without the snark and the smirks and the jokes I usually add on the blog. Consequently it is far less fun to read than this weekend's last post, but probably easier to forward to anybody who doesn't know the current local situation in Los Angeles. Please feel free to re-post anywhere you see fit,  with appropriate due credit  given to FBC!
Lastly,  the article was written as a Word document and exported as a html Webpage; however some of the formatting might conflict with Blogger's settings, especially for the footnotes, my apologies in advance: I'm a writer, not a computer scientist.
All images © Susan Silton]


It is with a certain sense of bitter irony that the Los Angeles art community is currently witnessing the brutal slide into provincialism of our Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), as it coincides with the recent Pacific Standard Time (PST) series of exhibitions organized under the Getty’s aegis, and meant to celebrate the rich history of modern and contemporary art in Los Angeles and the city’s elevated status on the international art scene.

 Founded in 1979 by contemporary art collectors and devotees at a time when there wasn’t a local collecting institution entirely devoted to modern and contemporary art in Los Angeles, the museum was created with the mission “ […] to be the defining museum of contemporary art. MOCA engages artists and audiences through an ambitious program of exhibitions, collection, education, and publication. MOCA identifies and supports the most significant and challenging art of its time, places it in historical context, and links the range of the visual arts to contemporary culture. MOCA provides leadership by actively fostering and presenting new work, emerging media, and original scholarship.”[i]




Welcomed and supported enthusiastically by the region’s art community, the museum rose to international prominence in the following decades, with epoch-defining exhibitions such as A Forest of Sign, Helter Skelter, Out of Actions or Whack!, organizing key retrospectives for the likes of Robert Rauschenber, Martin Kippenberger or Dan Graham, acquiring major, significant artworks with the Panza di Biumo Collection, and generally supporting seminal Los Angeles-based international artists such as Mike Kelley, Charlie Ray, Andrea Zittel, Liz Larner or Edward Ruscha.

A crucial figure in articulating MOCA’s historical achievements was Chief Curator Paul Schimmel, whose announcement of his abrupt departure on June 28[ii] has created a commotion in the national and international art community, sending rumors around about its exact circumstances and what it all means for MOCA, with conflicting reports of either his firing or his resignation.
Whether Schimmel has been fired, has resigned, or been coerced into resigning, is at this stage perhaps irrelevant. More significant is MOCA’s recent statement that he won’t be replaced. Other staff members layoffs were announced on the same day; beyond Schimmel’s personal case and the natural outcry resulting from his leaving an institution shaped and defined by many of his exhibitions and acquisitions, the latest turn of events is just the very last in a series of departures that has seen both curatorial talent and financial staff steadily leaving a troubled institution.



The curatorial brain drain is the most spectacular, as MOCA has since 2007 lost its historical curators Connie Butler to MoMA, Ann Goldstein to the Amstersdam Stedelijk Museum, and  now Paul Schimmel. A more recent hire, Philipp Kaiser, is also departing the museum to take the helm of Cologne’s Ludwig Museum . As highly visible and troubling as these departures are, as they seem to denote a pattern, they are nonetheless in keeping with the high turnover that is the norm in the profession.
What is abnormal is the absence of a search for suitable replacements, which signify a lack of intellectual ambition in maintaining MOCA’s cultural standing on the international art scene. Not launching a new curatorial search to fill Schimmel and Kaiser’s posts clearly marks a lowering of standards for an institution that seems to be abandoning all pretenses for educational or scholarly attainments, which are nonetheless the fundamental missions of any museum[iii], as defined by the International Council of Museums (ICOM), in addition to the MOCA’s own mission’s statement reproduced above.
 Even more troublesome for MOCA is a continual pattern of departures and layoffs over the last few months that goes beyond curatorial differences, as key financial figures have also recently left the institution, according to a March Los Angeles Times article[iv]. Furthermore, the same article explains that billionaire philanthropist and collector Eli Broad’s pledge to match every dollar donated to the museum to raise its endowment back to a healthy level, up to $15 millions, has stalled because MOCA hasn’t raised enough funds yet. This news added to the recent spate of layoffs paint a pretty bleak financial picture for the museum, despite the museum’s triumphal press release dated from March 27, 2012[v], announcing its “closing of its fiscal year with a cash balance”, curiously announced three months ahead of the normal ending of the fiscal year .




Placed in this context, it seems that beyond the personality clash between MOCA’s Director Jeffrey Deitch and Schimmel presented in the press as an explanation for the latter’s departure, an urgent need to reduce expenses by laying off one of the highest paid museum staffers as well as a half-dozen other employees ahead of a new fiscal year is a possible reason[vi]. Indeed, MOCA is now operating with a skeleton staff, outsourcing a lot of its tasks to corporate businesses and contractors. Whether the museum can accomplish great things according to this business model still remains to be seen. MOCA’s current delicate financial situation and how it got here is pretty well documented, as its ambitious program under the governance of its previous director Jeremy Strick was funded by dipping in the museum’s endowment, always a dangerous management strategy under any circumstances, but made even more catastrophic with the 2008 recession, leading to a series of deficits.

 Former art dealer Jeffrey Deitch was brought in as the museum’s director in 2010 with the understanding that his business experience would help focus the board of trustees on rebuilding the depleted endowment and bring the museum toward fiscal stability. Logically, it would have followed reason to see the museum’s governing body launch into a large-scale, strategic capital campaign aiming to bring back the endowment to a healthy amount, and its director recruiting new trustees with far-reaching financial clout and art collecting reputation to the Board.
Unfortunately, not such thing has taken place, with the only fundraising effort of note being the annual celebrity-studded museum gala. Deitch has made himself conspicuous on the local party circuit, fulfilling every New Yorker clichés about Hollywood superficiality[vii], while going on the record about his own difficulties in his new role as a fundraiser[viii].
Recent press releases celebrating the underwriting of two exhibitions by corporate sponsors tend to highlight his inexperience in museum matters; as they underscore the absence of personal support by the museum board members in financing specific museum projects.

 Much have been said in local and national medias about the celebrity-driven, corporate-funded exhibitions insisted upon by Deitch at MOCA, many prominent bloggers and critics adamantly decrying the evident lack of critical scholarship generated by the museum, while MOCA’s PR played the populist card by revealing the record attendance for its Art In The Streets exhibition[ix]. While many in the local and national art community rightly point out that this type of demagogic exhibition damage the international critical reputation of the museum to the point serious art collectors might balk at promising gifts to the permanent collection, the most pressing concerns expressed locally is the fear of the demise of a museum that was once an international reference for contemporary art, at a time when Los Angeles art is more than ever being celebrated abroad.



The memory of the failure of the Pasadena Art Museum, once a leading US contemporary art institution that staged the very first Duchamp retrospective, and its ignominious end due to massive debts, followed by its takeover by financier Norton Simon, is still haunting the community. Many see parallels between this sad precedent and the current climate, as Eli Broad is currently building his own private museum right across from MOCA. Fears have been expressed that should MOCA go financially bankrupt, Broad might repeat history by taking over its collection and its assets for the benefit of his own museum. These speculations are a bit spurious, as such a move would no doubt launch a federal investigation into possible conflicts of interest -Broad is a MOCA trustee – but they nonetheless underscore the anxiety felt within the community, helplessly witnessing the precipitous decline of what was our crown jewel, the pride of the Los Angeles art community.

 History doesn’t necessarily have to repeat itself as a tragedy nor as farce, but precedents should come as a warning to MOCA’s Board of Trustees whose members, no doubt, chose to join to ascertain the importance of knowledge, education, aesthetic and scholarship in contemporary art, as well as establishing their own philanthropic legacy. It is unimaginable to see this legacy tainted by a lack of financial involvement that could lead to catastrophic failure, as it is incredible for us all to witness the intellectual and aesthetic values of the museum sliding into pure entertainment. After all, Southern California already has Disneyland, there is no need for MOCA to morph itself into an amusement park just to get numbers through the doors, churning in one-time visitors who might never come back to look at serious art.

 It is up now to MOCA’s Board of Trustees to reestablish the museum finances on a sound footing by launching an ambitious capital campaign, and to restore the museum’s scholarly credibility by hiring well-respected curators to stage groundbreaking exhibitions and acquire cutting-edge art for the collection. It is up now to the Board of Trustees to hold itself and the museum’s director accountable, to uphold the museum’s international reputation in the art community, to bring back an ambitious program and assure MOCA’s permanence for the public.
By accepting to join the Board and by accepting to become the director, museums trustees and Jeffrey Deitch have made an implicit contract with the Los Angeles community to maintain “a permanent institution that exhibit the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity”[x]. Should they feel incapable of perpetuating this commitment, it is their duty to leave the Board and the museum directorship to let people of more dedication and competence take the helm of the museum. It is their duty to the museum, to the local, national and international art community, and ultimately, to themselves, so as not to taint their own philanthropic legacy.





 [i] MOCA’s mission’s statement posted on the museum’s website, http://www.moca.org/museum/us_home.php?
 [ii] A few gossipy blog articles have been posted late on the evening of June 27th, before confirmation was published by the Los Angeles Times on June 28th http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/culture/la-et-moca-schimmel-20120628,0,7041186,full.story
 [iii] “A museum is a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment”, as defined by the ICOM on its website. http://icom.museum/the-vision/museum-definition/
[iv] See this March 2, 2012 LAT article detailing the departures of MOCA’s C.O.O David M. Galligan, Development Director Sarah Sullivan, and trustee Gary Cypress, who used to chair the board’s finance committee. http://articles.latimes.com/2012/mar/02/entertainment/la-et-moca-finances-20120302
 [v] see MOCA’s website http://www.moca.org/pressroom/index.php?, “03.27.12 MOCA closes fiscal year with $7.3 million cash balance”
 [vi] A very conservative estimate of the reduction in salary expenses for the six employees being let go would be about $500,000. See MOCA’s 2009 Form 990 filing, available on the Charity Navigator and Guide Star websites.
[vii] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/magazine/jeffrey-deitchs-party-house.html?_r=1
 [viii] http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/news/corbett/jeffrey-deitch-on-private-museum-threat-6-18-12.asp
 [ix] While Art In The Streets was being repeatedly bashed in the art press as lacking critical depth, no one seems to have noted that if so-called “street art” indisputably deserved a historical retrospective, it might have been better suited to a folk art museum than a contemporary art one.
[x] Op. Cit, note III.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Ongoing Soap Opera At MOCA



Museum merchandise: fridge magnet sold at a very successful Los Angeles museum during the retrospective of an older conceptual artist said to be of a generation out of touch with today's youth, despite the popular success of said retrospective. Ironical text describing populist commercial painting tips, from a painting made by the older, internationally famous and historically significant conceptual artist.


Unless you've been living under a rock, or you simply live abroad and are not that much au courant of the current nefarious going-ons at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, you know, in a nutshell, that over the last 3 weeks, respected curator Paul Schimmel  has been fired  resigned, that the four, internationally famous and historically significant artists-trustees John Baldessari, Barbara Kruger, Cathy Opie and Edward Ruscha have all quit the Board in protest, and that some dissident trustees (some of them founding members of the museum) have signed a protest letter in the Los Angeles Times , demanding that the museum returns to its primary educational and intellectual mission rather than stage the celebrity-driven exhibitions organized under the tutelage of current director and former art merchant Jeffrey Deitch.
Almost every day since the firing resignation departure of Schimmel, there have been statements being issued by the museum, by trustees such as Eli Broad and Wallis Annenberg, reactions in the national press, etc, etc. East of Borneo has been posting a handy aggregation of what was available online, bless them because it's not easy to keep up with the daily updates*.

To the point that it is becoming hard to follow what is really going on right now. The only thing that is clear and certain is that the whole situation is a mess, and that MOCA is the laughingstock of the international art world as it proves every day more incompetent to manage both its finances and its communication, in addition to its personnel mismanagement.
Yours truly has zero vested personal interest in the place (never worked there, never had close friends who did) nor any sentimental attachment to it (saw some great exhibitions there, some not so great, some absolutely dismal), so I can confidently and impartially say that  MOCA, right now, reeks of  incompetence and lack of professionalism.

A lot has been said over the last few days about the current programming under Deitch, with defensive trustees  claiming "populist" exhibitions are the future as foot traffic seems to be their benchmark in terms of measuring the museum's achievements. I think they actually meant "popular", but maybe they don't know the difference. So, quickly: Populist = demagogic/crowd-pleasing. Popular = widely successful.
You're welcome.


The museum PR machine (I shudder at how much money they spend to utter such silly nonsense) tries to typecast the departed staff and trustees as "old", "not in touch with the current generation", and, supreme anathema, "academic types stuck in their ivory towers".
 Never mind the ageist clichés: I just checked, Wallis Annenberg is 73, Eli Broad 79, and as of Jeffrey Deitch, his age is mysterious but there is no way he could be younger than 56 (he's more likely to be in his 60s), unless he was a prodigy who got his MBA at age 12, and if so he certainly should brag about it.
So, pot, meet kettle, I don't know how a bunch of middle-age and elderly people can claim with so much certainty to be in touch with the current 20-somethings.

As for "populist versus smart", it's a false debate. If you start saying you want to do exhibitions that are not "difficult", or worst "pretentious" (you know, the adjective all US ignoramuses use to call whatever they're too lazy to try to understand), you're basically saying your audience is constituted of complete idiots who lack the willpower to, at the very least, check wikipedia on their smartphones. How condescending and patronizing.
It's a bit like saying your child is too dumb to understand maths, so she shouldn't study it at all but learn how to make pasta necklaces instead, because they're uncomplicated and everybody loves them. So much so that you see proud mothers wearing their pasta necklaces to work every day, everywhere. If you do, please take some pictures and email them to me, we could have a contest or something.

By the way, speaking about older artist trustees not in touch with the current generation and whose work is too difficult for a broad audience to understand; I seem to recall that the retrospective of historical conceptual artist John Baldessari at LACMA was a smashing success in terms of numbers getting through the door. I'm saying this, I'm not saying anything. No, no, no. Really.

I could go on and on about the "popular art versus intellectual art", but I see it mostly as a smokescreen agitated by a panicked institution that totally lost touch with its constituents.
A smokescreen to hide the unavoidable fact: under Jeffrey Deitch's tenure at MOCA's helm, and under the current Board's governance, the museum endowment has remained flat. None of those committed Deitch defenders on the Board have deigned support their beloved Director's vision and added to the cash pot to bring back the museum to a healthy financial state.
And therein lies the real issue, my friends. It's not about changing the artistic direction of the museum, even if it's ludicrous right now, it's about a deep inability to fundraise, a problem that Deitch himself has been whining about on record, while happily bragging about his party boy lifestyle and developing a very public crush on James Franco (because there cannot be any other reasonable explanation about his being hired to "curate" an exhibition at MOCA. Pay me what he got for that job and even I would "curate" a show about rebellious celebrity  Courtney Love Adele Amy Winehouse).

To be fair, Deitch inherited a crappy financial situation from former director Jeremy Strick, and from a Board that seems to be reluctant to spend money on anything but partying at the annual, star-studded gala,  thus confirming all the most stupid clichés New Yorkers love to spread about "Hollywood" and the entertainment industry associated with Los Angeles.
There is just so much one man can do, but there is very little someone with next to zero experience in museum and non-profit management can achieve if partying with the cute boys and girls occupies most of their time.
It's a bit as if someone would pluck me out to become the CEO of deeply troubled record label EMI on the dubious grounds that I love music, and hey, I know some people who love music, too! We even buy records! We don't steal them from free off the internet! So we know how the music business works, me and my pals!
Does this idea strikes you at ludicrous? yes, I thought so too.



Museum merchandise: bumper sticker issued by a leading international art museum currently organizing a cat videos festival


I'm pretty sure that if Deitch had managed to bring in some significant money to the endowment, and in addition to this - his primary function as a museum director -  he had been more competent at handling Paul Schimmel's departure, the local art community and the national art press wouldn't be so much up in arms against him about his weak curatorial chops and skills.

After all, the Walker Art Center is organizing a festival of cat videos ("how cute!" we all go. "but is it art?", nobody asks), but the Walker, as far as we know, isn't in a deeply troubled financial situation, has an otherwise top-notch exhibition program from an intellectual. aesthetic,  and educational point of view and is highly respected in its local community as well as internationally. So one festival of cat videos won't be detrimental to its cutting-edge international reputation.
Whereas a James Franco-Dennis Hopper-Drew Barrymore-[insert a celebrity mistaking themselves for a visual artist here] series of party orgies don't really bode well for, er, you know, international museums and collectors to take your institution *that* seriously when the time comes for loan exchanges or artwork donations.
So not only Deitch doesn't really have a curatorial vision beyond pairing celebrities with artists he used to represent at his art gallery, but he's really not good at bringing in the money. Meanwhile, the PR for the museum is terrible and is damaging its international reputation.

Now the question, in the immortal words of Arte Povera artist Mario Merz quoting Lenin, is: "Che Fare?" which means, "What To Do?" in plain English (for those of you who are too lazy to use Google Translate).

As far as the museum side of the story is, it's pretty obvious to everybody except the Board, apparently,  what they should do: collectively donate enough money for the museum's endowment to go back to a healthy level; maybe 50 millions, which may look like a lot to you and me but is peanuts for all the billionaires sitting on that Board.
It's probably the cost of one lone freeway overpass (?), or a couple of McMansions, or a private jet and a yacht (?).

Then letting go of Jeffrey Deitch, who I'm sure is charming in person but truly proved a wrong match for a museum both as a managing director and as a programmer, and hire a real professional to do the job. It was an interesting experiment, it didn't work well, it shouldn't last.

If they need to save money, meanwhile, then instead of wasting some on schlock celebrity exhibition cutesies, just commission local artists who, YOU KNOW, ARE INTERNATIONALLY FAMOUS AND MAKE LOS ANGELES A FIRST-RATE ART CITY**, to make artworks that not only would thus enter the collection, but the commission would serve as the exhibition as well. Win-win situation, as they love to say in corporate industries.
Now, apologies for shouting above, but as a European curator and art writer, I can tell you the quality of art-making in Los Angeles since the 1950s has made the city famous as a first-rate art destination. Nobody abroad gives a damn about stupid annual galas that the audience cannot attend,  even if "Los Angeles talks about it for months", what the art world at large cares about in respect to Los Angeles is how amazing the artists living here are, and how when they come to visit the city there is very little in our local collections they can see.

 End of the rant, and back to what can be done by us, the Los Angeles art community, and the international art community as well. I don't really know what actually, because I don't know what could sway the current Board and decide them to do what they are there for.

All I can recommend is if you want your voice to be heard, participate in the lively debates on this Facebook page, and maybe boycott the museum until the situation changes?
If you're an artist, stop donating your work for their annual benefit auctions, and if you are really, really noble and selfless, refuse to exhibit there if invited to do so and make public your refusal (it would be awesome if that did happen, but seriously it's understandable if nobody did it)?
Don't renew your membership?
Write concerned letters to the trustees, to the director, inundate their mail room with protest correspondence?
Write blog posts, comment on their website, write articles?
Just gather in front of the museum in large groups but refuse to set foot on the premises?
 Don homemade t-shirt saying "Ditch Deitch and Bring Some Dough"?
Any idea?

Because you know what is so beautiful about  Los Angeles as an art city?
 It's a community, and a community that cares passionately about its contemporary art museum and what it has meant to us as a leading institution. A community that cares that MOCA should continue to be that smart, forward, critical voice.
 It's a shame that the MOCA's Board of Trustee and Director have so lost touch with the Los Angeles art community they can't recognize the harm they're doing to the museum by not listening to our concerns and not acting to solve the museum current issues.
It's not as if the city was devoid of  successful contemporary art institutions, as evidenced by LACMA and the Hammer, so if these two museums can do it, it's mind blogging that MOCA can't.





*Please consult these links as I won't be linking individually to each LAT or artinfo, etc. site myself.
**As evidenced in the international reception to the Getty-led series of Pacific Standard Times exhibitions, the 2006 Los Angeles exhibition at the Pompidou Center, the many international exhibitions our leading artists have been in, the private collections they are in such as Pinault's in Europe for example, and the massive amount of critical articles, monographs and books published about the many artists who have called Los Angeles home since the postwar era. Yours truly has 5 metric feet of books devoted to LA artists in my library, and I'm still short of at least a couple hundred books to really own what's needed.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Help Pat Fish And Max Eider Record A New Jazz Butcher Album!



Howdy, beloved if thin readership. It's going to be short. The Jazz Butcher, one of my favorite bands growing up, has lots of material to make a new records, but no funds. They started  a fundraising effort today, and in less than 8 hours have already enough pledges that it is 99% funded. Now, the last 1% is the hardest to reach, so please, help those two gentlemen adventurers get out of their Weston-Super-Mare retirement home and pledge some $$$. You'll get goodies in exchange, and my eternal gratefulness. And if you live in Europe and are a bit more loaded than yours truly, you might even get Max and Pat to play in your living room. To pledge some dough, go here. And yes, they accept Paypal.

Come on, be more generous than MOCA* Board members doing nothing to save their institutions, give some of your hard-earned money to the Jazz Butcher!



*I'm not going to write anything about the MOCA crisis as it develops. In a nutshell, the Board of Trustees needs to get replaced en masse, and a new director who knows what they're doing hired. 


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Jesus And Mary Chain at the Hollywood Park Racetrack, Friday, June 15, 2012







Let me get this out of the way first: I am not a Jesus & Mary Chain lifelong fan. I really adored Psychocandy when it came out, not so much Darklands, so after my mid-to-late teens I totally forgot about them. I occasionally listen to Psychocandy and always with great pleasure - this must be one of the greatest albums ever made, but I never really paid attention to the band after that, with the exception of their covers of Who Do You Love and Surfing USA. I had always been told they tended to be crap onstage and have a mighty attitude, but I never really cared, to the point I didn't even know the name of the brothers (Jim and William Reid) who ARE the J&MC.  Plus, I usually totally suck at music trivia, so there you are. I was actually living in LA when they had that 1998 concert where they broke up on stage, but I didn't know they were playing at the time, and I'm not sure I'd have gone anyway.

Fast-forward to a few weeks back, an acquaintance  posted on Facebook about a concert at the Hollywood Park racetrack. It was intriguing enough - weird venue, had they sunk so low they couldn't get gigs elsewhere, how strange some promoter would think it's an adequate venue  for them, etc, etc, but but but what really made me want to go was the promise of a low entrance fee: $10. Plus, I had never been at a horse race before, so it sounded like tons of fun, and if the concert ended up being shit, well, what's the risk with losing $10?

So, with a few friends on Friday we dutifully made it at 8 PM for cheap drinks, cheap hot dogs (little did we know they had "gourmet food trucks") , horse racing and at the end, J&MC. Some people in my party had seen the band back in the day and related "they played with their back to the audience", "they played for 20 minutes, had a fight, left the stage and that was it",  which, to me, sounded like tons of fun. I'm always up for experiences that can morph into really fun stories a decade or two later.  We started with crap drinks, very good pulled pork sandwiches and later on churros at the food trucks, tried to figure out that horse racing thing gambling protocol (man, it's complicated), got very excited during the races, and of course lost our bets.


Jim Reid


As a side note, I have to say the racetrack owners did a fantastic job of making us spend money, between the really bad drinks at the various bars (seriously folks, if you go there, stick to beer), betting on horses with zero chance of making money (we had no idea what we were doing, hence we ended up erroneously betting on races in *Australia* and at some other racetrack in California) and of course the entrance fee ($10) and parking fee ($5). I'm not sure they'll manage to hook up them hipsters in regularly gambling on horses, but as a Summer entertainment option, it sure was fun!
Two hours and a half went in a jiffy, and then it was time to see Jesus and Mary Chain.

The crowd was really cool, very "California Gothic", with a few people still celebrating the LA Kings Stanley Cup win, with a ridiculous inflatable trophy they were shaking over their head all night long. One friend found it annoying (hi Juan!) but it totally cracked me up, as a "only in LA" type of thing. I was more annoyed at the youngster guy who spent 1 hour 30 jumping up and down in front of me - dude, if you want to mosh, go to the mosh pit in the front, or please dance, jumping is, ah, so ridiculous. But congratulations for the stamina! Another odd moment was someone passing on two trays full of cupcakes to the crowd? "I want some candy, give me some candy, give me some", maybe?

The band was on stage promptly at 10.30 PM, no waiting whatsoever, with Jim Reid exclaiming in a really lovely, charming Scottish accent "Bloody hell! This is weird, isn't it?" (I'm paraphrasing). He looked very trim and more relaxed than I had expected, with far less hair than, er, in 1985, while William Reid still has tons of hair but clearly needs to jump on the wagon soon, poor man. I couldn't really see the other dudes, what with the twat jumping up and down in front of me.
They seemed to be doing a very professional job, that's all I can say.


The band, blurry


 They started with, er, a song I didn't know (snake something?), but as an opener it was a clear indication that the show was going to be GOOD.  Not being a die-hard fan, I cannot really say what they were playing but a bunch from Psychocandy, they did Sidewalking, I Hate Rock'n'Roll, and right before the encore an extraordinarily intense version of Reverence.
 There were a few false starts with something I've never seen before, a band stopping and then starting over the same song three times to get it right. Which is the part I really enjoyed because it made them human, and I also like that they'd rather start over several times and do it right than just botch it up once.
 The banter between the songs was also very enjoyable, not least because of Jim Reid's lovely accent, but also because it was so unexpected. You know, shoegaze band and all that... Lots of "fuck" and "bloody something or other", but also self-deprecating jokes ("know of a good rehearsal space?", "does anybody know our songs here? because we don't", and "BTW, Jim says we played like shit tonight"- William Reid toward the end). One thing was certain, it was very, very LOUD because they managed to blot out the sound of the airplanes taking off and landing at nearby LAX, and my ears kept on ringing three days later.

After the concert I kept on reading some reviews saying how terrible they had been onstage of late, the fact is, they weren't terrible at all in Los Angeles last Friday, far from it.
Apparently they had tons of problems in San Francisco the night before, but at the racetrack they did really well. Especially if you take into consideration it was an outdoor concert and you'd expect the mix to be shite, it wasn't at all. Jim Reid's voice came out super clearly and not drowned at all by the music. Lovely fuzzy feedback as expected, but the thing that really, really won me over was Jim Reid's lovely voice,  the fact that the man can truly sing.
 I have no idea if he's using Autotune - my gut feeling is he wasn't, but what do I know? This is one of the loveliest singing voices I've heard at a gig in ages. This is the voice of someone who could easily churn out records of 1950s crooner covers and get away with it. This is the voice of someone who should be offered the means to record a nice solo album. This is a voice of someone who I hope is taking care of his liver, because he should keep on singing for as long as possible.

Up until Reverence I thought it was a very good band onstage, false starts and all. And when they did Reverence, then I understood at what level the Jesus and Mary Chain can really play if they get warmed up enough. It was... intense, magical, beyond anything else, really. It took them some time to get there, but boy, was it worth it.
 Just that one song made me decide to go and explore their back catalogue, which I've been happily doing ever since. Just  that one song justified spending $10 to see one of the greatest bands ever playing at a seedy California racetrack. Even if they had only made Psychocandy it still would be one of the greatest bands, ever (because, you know, the Velvet Underground only made VU & Nico and White Light, White Heat, the rest is sentimental schlock), but they also made Munki (Gawd this is good) and I'm busy exploring all their b-sides and covers right now. Ever heard their cover of My Girl? Try it, because if it's not one of the most amazing covers you've ever heard, well, what can I say? You need to consult an ear doctor.



Beautiful stoner amp/speaker

Monday, May 21, 2012

Go See Will Fowler's Exhibition At Kordansky

The second exhibition I've seen over the last few weeks was Will Fowler's at David Kordansky in Culver City. It opened on Saturday so it should be up for a few weeks, if you like painting I recommend you go see the show in person because not only my crap pictures below don't do them justice, but there are some effects in texture you can only see up close. There is some "fake automatic writing"* in  some of them, for example, that I'm not sure you can spot via my pictures.

 Will Fowler at David Kordansky, 2012.


  Will Fowler at David Kordansky, 2012.

 Will Fowler at David Kordansky, 2012. 


  Will Fowler at David Kordansky, 2012.

* "fake automatic writing" because Will and I concurred that all-stream-of-consciousness writing can be automatic only if one is high, drunk, or suffering from a high fever.

Pictures From Jennifer Moon's Exhibition At Commonwealth and Council

Howdy, dear readership!

 It's been a while. And it's going to be a longer while as well since I'm working on some deadlines and other stuff right now, meaning I don't really have the time to actually go out see exhibitions, let alone write about them. I've seen a grand total of two shows over the last few weeks, including the Jennifer Moon show at Commonwealth and Council I had mentioned previously. I actually went twice in order to try and take decent pictures, and I failed miserably. So please find my crap pictures below, and if you want to be updated on Jennifer's work, I suggest you "like" the page The Revolution on Facebook. 


  Jennifer Moon at Commonwealth & Council, 2012

 Jennifer Moon at Commonwealth & Council, 2012

 Jennifer Moon at Commonwealth & Council, 2012

 Jennifer Moon at Commonwealth & Council, 2012

 Jennifer Moon at Commonwealth & Council, 2012


Jennifer Moon's show at C&C was the first step in a larger project, documenting a moment of self-discovery while doing prison time for a failed robbery a few years ago. After being led astray form her career path as an artist by drug use, Moon's experience of incarceration led her to recovery and the desire for reforming society. She then worked to design a peaceful, loving series of models and systems to build an expansive and self-aware revolution. The first step on this path is explained in the free blue booklet you could have picked up at the gallery, "Definition of Abundance". It has great footnotes, BTW, and if you wish to be enlightened I think asking for a booklet via the Facebook fan page for The Revolution should produce some result.

At C&C the viewer could look at photographs of various objects related to prison life ( a typewriter, a CD player,  a picture of a necklace given by her prison lover, etc.) as well as a book describing what it was like, with each object documented in the book. In addition there was the rather large correspondence between Moon and other people, which you could browse if so inclined.

Moon's work has been  marked since the beginning - but with a 10 year hiatus -  by an idealistic stance for self-improvement leading to a community-based utopia of worldwide reform: from wanting to become a super-hero at the service of humanity in the 1990s, to devising today a new utopian society funded on principles of sharing resources in a world that has seen an exponential rise of inequality. Follow Jennifer Moon's artistic path and for all you know, it might take you to a new society.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Guy de Cointet's Five Sister at LACMA on Friday



There's this on Friday evening at LACMA. Who doesn't like free access to culture? If you can't be arsed to click on the link, lazy you, it's a live performance of a piece by the late Guy de Cointet*. He was a French artist established in Los Angeles, died in 1983, and has been slowly rediscovered over the last 15 years.
So if you have no plans for Friday night, head over to see some cool exhibitions  like the Women Surrealists (it's free after 5 PM for LA County residents), have a quick bite somewhere and attend the 8 PM performance. Everybody I know who's seen them say they were great.




*who, contrarily to what his French proponents like to believe, didn't particularly influence Mike Kelley, even if he liked them very much. Mike said he only saw de Cointet's stuff in the mid-1980s when they were re-staged at MOCA, after he's been doing performances himself for several years already.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Revolution Of The Moon



Forgive me, beloved readers, for I have bad-punned in the post title above.
You see, like most of you, I am deep into  doing my taxes,  meaning I am not setting foot outside the FBC! tax headquarters until I can e-file or mail my return (my preferred method to keep USPS in business and its employees with their jobs) and therefore I am cabin-feverish, hence the delirious bad pun.
I'm fiscally locked-in until Monday, save for the one opening that everybody who's anybody in Los Angeles should go to this Saturday. 8 to 11 PM in groovy Koreatown, where Jennifer Moon, who's actively engaged in her art practice to start a loving revolution, is having her first solo show in about a decade at Commonwealth & Council.

If you go, not only you will have the opportunity to see the badassest show of all the bad ass shows ever, but you can also very conveniently  take home a FREE pocket book of The Revolution-approved literature: Definition of Abundance, Principle 1 of The Revolution (see picture). What's not to love?
Be there, or be the person who will have to lie in 20 years from now when they do Pacific Standard Time-III and pretend you know what it was all about.
Go there, and go support the Revolution of the Moon

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Candor Exhibition At Long Beach City College Gallery

The Candor exhibition at the Long Beach City College Gallery closed yesterday. It was a homage to Mike Kelley, featuring former students of his. Please find a few images of the show below. I took them at night, so apologies for the yellowish tinge in all the picture. It was a really nice show, very tight and holding together beautifully.






 Lisa Ann Auerbach


 Andy Alexander

 Daniel Mendel-Black

Kurt Forman


Sharon Lockhart

 Pam Strugar


I didn't get the exhibition's checklist so I cannot give you the titles nor the dimensions of the works. I know that most artists showed recent work, with the exception of Pam Strugar who decided to show a piece she made for her final MFA show at Art Center when she was Mike's student. The exhibition is over but there are talks about maybe doing a web catalog in the future.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Please Excuse This Momentary Interruption Of Our Regular Programing



...with a truly epic piece of music. One of the most amazing things we've ever witnessed on the youtubes at the FBC! headquarters, so we felt it had to be shared.  The sound quality is great, too.
We can only hope that Jah Wobble, Keith Levene, the guy who's cloning and channeling John Lydon most convincingly (and if you had asked me one hour ago, I'd have said a clone of Lydon wouldn't be such a great idea), their drummer and the guy who plays trumpet (check this other video) will tour the United States very soon, with a stop in Los Angeles.
 I don't think I'd go see the current PIL with Lydon himself, when, you know, the musicians above are producing pure brilliance. I so hope Wobble, Levene, and gang will play here soon. Please, Los Angeles club promoters, bring them here.

It's hard to be truly interested in visual arts there days. Compared to music like this.

The two videos above have been shot during Wobble & Levene current UK tour last Friday and Saturday. A friend of mine flew all the way from NYC to Manchester to see them, and as you can see from the video, it was totally worth it.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

An Appeal

 Rosa Dixon


Dear readership (all 78 of you,  and your friends,  and your extended family,  and your acquaintances, and your colleagues),

This post is only tangentially art-related, nevertheless, I feel it's more important than all the art one could possibly want to see and discuss in one's life. Please take the time to read it, and if it moves you somehow, please pass it around. I'm trying to help my friend's child.

I normally don't relay this kind of appeal, if only because I never know whether it's a scam or not. In that particular case, I happen to know the person who wrote it, and I can personally vouch for her, her honesty, her despair, and her will to do anything she can to save her daughter.
 I've met Joanna Rajkowska - a very fine Polish artist - when working on a show in Luxembourg, about a decade ago. Joanna was fun to be around, very dedicated to her work, and a great source of information regarding Poland in general and the Polish art scene more particularly. At some point after this show, she did a big public art project where she wanted to bring in the tropics, exoticism and much more to Poland, so she went and brought a giant artificial palm tree (a real one couldn't have withstood the harsh Polish winters) in the center of Krakow. It was wildly popular, so successful that the local authorities tried to keep it permanent. She researched artificial palm trees very seriously, and stayed with me in Paris a couple of times to go and see the one and only examples in Continental Europe at the time, at Disneyland Paris - where she discovered they were kept indoors and in the dark!
We kept in touch  throughout the years and I checked her website from time to time to see what she was doing, wishing that maybe one day we could work on something together. A few months ago, I was overjoyed to learn that she had given birth to a daughter, Rosa.

Unfortunately, I learned this week, via Facebook, that Rosa who's only 9 months old got eye cancer. She may lose her eyesight and for all I know she might also lose her life.  I'm pasting below the translation of the first Polish message Joanna put on her page asking for help. Please read it, and if you're touched by it, do whatever you think could help her and her daughter.
 There's an appeal for money, as the treatment Rosa could get in London  after she finishes chemo reaches 20,000 GBP.
Joanna is an artist and is as broke as you and me, so any tiny bit of something you could contribute could help. As such, Joanna also knows that most of the people around her are most certainly  poor, unemployed, or unable to contribute monies for any reason. She doesn't expect you to reach for the moon for her, but any tiny gesture, any transmission of her appeal to other people would go a long way.

What you can do, if you can't donate anything financial, is donate your time and energy: you can repost this in the hope someone else you know or even don't know could give money, expertise, time, connections. You may have an old friend from college who became a world expert in pediatric eye cancer who could help and steer Joanna toward the best type of treatment. You might have a cousin fifth times removed who knows some philanthropic institution that specifically helps families dealing with child cancer. You may know a collector or foundation that would enjoy Joanna's work and buy some of it preemptively so as to cover at least part of the expenses for Rosa's treatment. Whoever you may know might be able to help, just by passing around Joanna's appeal for Rosa.

Please read Joanna's appeal, and try to help her. Thank you so very much for Joanna and for Rosa.


"Dear friends read and help!
from Joanna Rajkowska

Dear,
I'm not a Facebook person, but this time I decided to write to you using the power of Facebook.
Our 9-month-old daughter, Rosa, has tumors in both eyes - this is eye cancer, retinoblastoma.
For now, we live in the belief that after six cycles of chemotherapy Rosa will undergo a lasetherapy or radiotherapy possibly in London. We were referred there by the Children Institute Memorial Hospital in Warsaw, so we trust them.

Rosa has an account at the Foundation To Live.
If by some miracle, tumors disappear from her eyes after chemotherapy, which is almost impossible, the money will go to another kid in the Foundation.
We'll find out everything on 18th/19th April, when the ophthalmologists in Warsaw and in London will examine her once again, after the second chemo.
Write to me please if you know any secrets or other important matters relating to children's eye cancer. We want to save her.

Account maintenance instructions below.
XXOOXX,
Rayka, Andrew and Rosa

Fundacja Aby żyć ul. Mogilska 40 31-546 KRAKÓWDeutsche Bank PBC S.A. 88 1910 1048 2101 0290 5873 0006
"donation for medical care for Rosa Dixon"

Your Rayka
"



Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy Saint Patrick's Day, Happy National Mike Kelley Day!



I recently made the cake above for friends who came over wanting to reminisce about Mike Kelley. It's basically this cake,  topped with cream cheese icing, and LOTS of green food coloring dumped into the batter. It was surprisingly good. You can also see from the picture above I lack fine motor skills and cake decorating abilities.

Today for the first time in my life I'm celebrating St. Patrick, for the first time because I don't have an ounce of Irish blood in my veins, I'm not even catholic, and I don't like beer. Irish whiskey will do nicely, thank you. I'm really celebrating in Mike's memory, because he loved St. Patrick's Day and I guess from now on, for me it will be National Mike Kelley Day forever. And for you too, if you wish. Kelly green is really Mike Kelley Green.



Here are below a sample of Irish bands that are not U2, if you need some musical accompaniment to the day. Also, if you wish to bake some dessert today, I recommend this recipe. The smell in your house will be totally insane. As for drinks, aside from the ubiquitous Guinness and Murphy's, I suggest you sample the Irish single malt they carry at Trader Joe's. Much better than Bushmills and slightly cheaper!


The Virgin Prunes, Down Memory Lane:




Them And Van Morrison, Baby Please Don't Go:



The Undertones, Here Comes The Summer:




And that's all for the Irish music sampler today.

Before I leave you celebrating National Mike Kelley Day, a few things. There's an opening tonight at Richard Telles, a group show that looks very interesting. 
There are a few things that should be coming up on FBC! in the next few weeks, depending on where I am with the shitload of non art-related paperwork I have to do;  and also depending on how my back pain is evolving. Right now, it's not looking too good,  so I'm not sure how much posting I'll be able to do.
I intend to write a double post on Jennifer Moon and Andy Alexander's current projects, also to write something on the Mono-Ha exhibition at Blum and Poe. There are several interesting things coming up in the next few months, like the Jennifer Moon solo show at Commonwealth and Council in mid-April, and the Will Fowler one at Kordansky in May. Also, as you may know there's a new Biennial coming up at the Hammer/LAXart, etc. with a big cash prize attached, not that I care about that part, but since I have quite a few friends whose work will be featured in the Biennial, so I'm crossing my fingers for them. And, the event everybody has been waiting for: the Jack Goldstein retrospective at OCMA opens on June 24th. Don't miss it!

Lastly, I've been asked recently if there was a Facebook page for FBC! The answer is, no, and I don't foresee one in the immediate future. This blog was started as a personal outlet almost 5 years ago after a devastating car accident, merely as a way for me to fend off the boredom during the many months that recovery took. It's not a way for me to "make it into the art world", as too many blogs - mainly based on the East Coast -  were created for,  just a way for me  to get some personal writing out once in a while. If it touches some people, I am glad, but I don't want this to become a gigantic piece of work, especially work that doesn't bring in any income. It's just a space for me to have the freedom to write whatever I want, and as stated in the header, it's unresearched and un-edited. Warts and all!

If you would like to keep in touch with updates, I believe there's an RSS Feed button somewhere (I don't use RSS myself, so I have no idea if it works or not), and I use the Networkedblogs app. to import it on Facebook. If you don't want to use these, I'd say just check in once or twice a month to see if there's an update. It's very rare that I update more than twice a month anyway.

Happy National Mike Kelley Day everybody, and happy pagan Persian Norouz to all as well!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Rock Negotiates A Turn On Western & Wilshire



Someone posted this very spectacular video on YouTube. The music is freakingly annoying, so I recommend you turn off the sound. The turn is very spectacular. I guess the video must have been taken from the Solair building (?).

I went to meet friends at LACMA yesterday, the talented photographer Tad Beck who currently has a show at LACE, and his husband. Also got the opportunity to meet the artist Jesse Aron Green, for a pleasant mid-afternoon break. Of course we went to see that giant stupid rock, and the trench. That's when I realized that Levitated Mass was going to look like a phallic (yet squat) thing resting atop a very long and narrow... slit?
 See below a couple of pics I took at LACMA yesterday.



 the trench,  with the rock in its carrier in the background

So, from my point of view (contrary to the nice commenter who was discussing the cost issues with me a couple of posts below), it's not a particularly compelling artwork, but what makes it interesting is really the truly epic journey it took from Riverside to Los Angeles - a journey that isn't part of the artwork for Heizer, according to a recent Michael Govan interview in the LAT.
What I find touching about it is how so many people went to see the rock at its various resting stops throughout its slow trip through the Southland, stayed up all night along the route to try and glimpse it, and how 20, 000 people went to see it and spontaneously block-partied for it in Bixby Knolls/Long Beach.
As the rock was being carried through many very poor areas of Los Angeles, the population that came to witness its trek was in many cases one that isn't, usually, in contact with art at all, whether it's contemporary or else. I don't know if the same population has the means to actually come visit LACMA when Levitated Mass is finally completed and unveiled: many of these people don't own cars and might not be able to take very long bus rides to come from South LA to LACMA*


Which made me think that maybe LACMA could try and find some funds quickly for an outreach effort, maybe offering free entrance to its galleries the day Levitated Mass is finally completed? Perhaps some generous donor could also pitch in and fund buses rides from South Los Angeles and back to let the same people who stood in awe following the rock's itinerary experience the full art experience at  what is, in essence, a public institution, the County museum**.  I think it would be a really great way for the museum to express some thanks to all those people it never gets to truly serve and who instinctively expressed support for a form of art that is normally outside of their daily thoughts. Mr. Govan, I think it's time you should call the Resnicks,  the  Wallis Annenberg Foundation, or any donors you think would gladly underwrite such an event.


The rock in its cradle, with the Resnick Pavilion in the foreground, I took this picture on top of the staircase at BCAM


* I used to drive surface streets from Long Beach to Mid-City in Los Angeles, essentially taking the same route as the rock did, save for the last mile and a half. Depending on traffic it took between 1 hour 15 and 2 hours. The same one-way journey by bus would easily take almost 3 hours, even with Metro's rapid buses.
** Many people tend to think that because LACMA is "the County museum", it is entirely funded by the taxpayers. It isn't. Only about a quarter of the museum's budget comes from public funds, everything else has to come through private and corporate donors. It is located on County land, yes, land that is unusable for other types of construction because of the tar pits. Imagine the outcry if the County had tried to build a hospital or an elementary school on soil that emanates tar fumes all the time.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Happy 70th Birthday, John Cale!

Today, Mr. Cale turns 70 and celebrates decades and decades of music making. We at the FBC! headquarters wish him a fantastic fun day and a great time on his upcoming mini-European tour. A new record should be out I believe in May (?) courtesy Domino/Double Six records. If it's as good as his latest EP, we'll be in heaven!

Here's a short selection below of clips from John Cale. If he ever tours near you, don't miss him, he's always good on stage, and he works with the nicest and greatest drummer on the planet, Mr. Michael Jerome Moore (hi Michael!).


Here's an early Velvet Underground experimental track influenced by Cale's time with La Monte Young and  Tony Conrad, Loop:





Antarctica Starts Here, from Cale's most famous record, Paris 1919





Much later on, the song that made me discover John Cale's music when I was about 14 years old, Mercenaries:




John Cale is also a noted composer of film soundtracks (his most famous being for American Psycho), here's Wilderness Approaching, for the movie Paris s'éveille, also on his EP 5 tracks (2003)




Aside from the Velvet Underground and his later collaboration with Lou Reed when they did Songs For Drella, Cale is also a master of covers. Everybody knows his arrangement of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, which propelled into super mega stardom an hitherto unknown song, thanks to Jeff Buckley's histrionic cover of his arrangement. Cale has  also covered Elvis Presley, LCD Soundsystem, Rufus Thomas, Jonathan Richman, etc. Here's his version of a beautiful Nico song, Frozen Warnings.




You probably know that John Cale was born in Wales in a small mining village, Garnant. If you've ever read his great autobiography, What's Welsh For Zen?, you also know that Welsh is his first language, and that he learned English aged seven when he went to elementary school. Here's Cale interpreting a traditional Welsh song, Myfanwy.





John Cale has released many records, produced all the greats (Iggy And the Stooges, The Modern Lovers, Patti Smith, Happy Mondays, Squeeze...), worked with Brian Eno, Phil Manzanera, Chris Spedding and even Phil Collins on drums (yep!) ... and despite such a storied and trailblazing  career never really got the recognition he deserves. 
That hasn't prevented him from continuing and making music. Here's below a clip from his last EP, "Extra Playful", the song Whaddya Mean By That. Super catchy music, the lyrics are probably not his best...  but once you've listen to the song once it morphs into the earworm you'll crave for days. If you can lay your hand on the Black Friday edition of this EP, I particularly recommend you listen to The Hanging.





I hope this will have given you the curiosity to explore his fantastic musical career. We spent a summer doing just that at the FBC! Headquarters two years ago and it was an amazing experience. Lastly, if you would like to wish John Cale a happy birthday, please join his official Facebook page and leave him a note.