19 December 2011

writing about olive oil and nonfiction

While ostensibly just a review of Extra virginity: the sublime and scandalous world of olive oil by Tom Mueller (W.W. Norton), this article by Dwight Garner in The New York times for December 8th expands on the very nature of nonfiction writing. I especially liked the sentences "It's an unintentional master class in how to say waxy and embalming things about fresh food" and "In this regard 'Extra virginity' is another reminder of why subpar nonfiction is so much better than subpar fiction. With nonfiction at least you can learn something." The review ends "That hollered obscenity reminds you that where there's a flask of olive oil, you also pray to find some vinegar."

18 December 2011

me and Herman Melville

I've started cataloging the books in the ancestral home in which I'm living. Yes, I'm doing it in LibraryThing as I have done with my personal library. It was interesting to watch the libraries closest to mine as I cataloged my own books. LibraryThing tells you the closest as weighted, raw, and recent. The weighted comparison is number of common books to total number of books. I've done about 60 books so far from the sectional bookcase in the front parlor downstairs and my closest weighted library is now Herman Melville's. Pretty neat.

I have read a couple of Melville's books in the past few years: Moby Dick and Redfern. Enjoyed 'em both. I think it was the first time I'd read Moby Dick but probably read excerpts at various points in school.

We'll see how this progresses and which books I might keep out of boxes in order to read. The point, you see, is to put some of the ancestral books in boxes so that my own books can come out of boxes.

07 December 2011

shrinking cities but CITIES still and the same

My meanderings so far in New Orleans have mostly been in the French Quarter or along the Esplanade to the New Orleans Museum of Art or, from NOMA, along the avenues of Mid-City and the Garden District. All of that is higher ground than the Lower Ninth or Bywater so not hit as hard by Katrina flooding. Still, as you walk the streets, there are empty houses and lots. We can all read about shrinking cities but it is still sad to see the quotidian effect. New Orleans is different from Detroit; more of the emptiness is still fresh. I admit to having more experience with New Orleans than Detroit but when I visited Detroit a few years ago, it seemed like the vacant lots had mostly been planted or were overgrown. There were lots of broken-down houses but somehow they mostly didn't stretch into the street. Oh, that's right, I was driving and the stretch is way more apparent on foot than from a vehicle.

All of this is swirling in my mind as I wander the streets but I wanted to reflect here because of Roberto's last couple posts about being in New Haven: a relatively high crime rate, town-gown, real cities, streets versus art talks. When I commented, he responded that New Haven didn't seem like a "city" (he should come to Alfred for a bit of small-town town-gown reality) and New Orleans does. Yep.

04 December 2011

watching your templates redux

A year and a bit more ago, I blogged about an unfortunate incident in which the assistant of our state senator read the senator's letter of greeting and it was for the wrong sort of event. Watch "save as" or the "to:" line of email; it CAN be tricky. Anyway, I said then that I didn't know if I'd vote for her or not. Our senator, Cathy Young, does generally serve us well but her latest update letter to us bashed New York City. I hate that! Not only because I love NYC but because I think it is divisive, perhaps as divisive as some of the partisan politics we see too much of.

systems and rules

"The Los Angeles-based artist has long employed systems and rule-based procedures to widen the distance between concepts and their interpretation." -- from "Differential equations: Michael Ned Holte on the art of Charles Gaines," Artforum, Oct. 2011, p. 280-283. Part of an issue with tons of stuff about L.A. which, as you surely know, is very hot at the moment because of the Pacific Standard Time initiative.

One of the other essays is about Asco which was part of a question from Janice just a few days ago. They were new to me, I think, but, then, Janice is in California (S.F., not L.A.) and the Asco show at LACMA closes today!

Image from Steven Wolf Fine Arts website: "Greenhouse" by Charles Gaines http://www.stevenwolffinearts.com/dynamic/artwork_display.asp?ArtworkID=236

big words

Last night at supper, we were talking about the new names for the art studio courses, e.g., lab, project, team. Fuse Lab, Move Lab. We went into a free-floating play on words that started with co, starting with co-lab, the obvious extension to collaboration.

From somewhere, "consanguinity" popped into my brain. Michelle said "what??" and I was kind of glad the conversation kept racing past so I wouldn't have to test my understanding of the meaning of consanguinity. I was right and you can look it up if you want by clicking on the link (Wikipedia) under the word.

There's probably too much inbreeding in art practice anyway.

I want to grill Michelle one of these days about the hot words floating around the art world these days. Does she try to separate participatory art from social practice from relational art? Does she use the word interactive in conjunction with participatory? I like the latter much more than the former but in most of the articles I've read recently, the authors use the words almost synonymously or descriptively.

The image is from the Wikipedia article:
Arbor consanguinitatis in MS BNF lat. 4975, f.121, illustrating Bernard Gui's Arbor genealogiae regum Francorum. Source: http://classes.bnf.fr/arbre/grandes/lat4975_121.htm