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Art and Culture
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Donald Gavron
Tuesday, 23 March 2010
Batteries Recharged
Mood:  energetic
Topic: Writing
I've had a lot of time on my hands, mixing fun and work. Compartmentalize, someone told me. I've decided to edit some old manuscripts, work on some stories and for some reason some poetry has been popping into my head. Reading T.S. Eliot has helped get me going. Finding a lot of old friends on facebook has been fun. I have to avoid distractions and concentrate on upgrading some of my graphics skills. I've also gotten out of the habit of exercising due to the harsh winter and the incessant rain. Soon it will be jogging weather and I'll be sucking wind running down the sidewalk 1.25 miles to the RR tracks and back again. Don't die with your music still in you, as Dr. Dyer says. Got to get to work now.

Posted by dgavron at 5:07 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 6 January 2010
HOLIDAY HANGOVER
Mood:  blue
Now Playing: The Year in Review

Why do we need all these "Year in Review" articles? Didn't we all live through these events, or have we forgotten and need someone else to remind us (in their own skewed fashion) what happened. Is our collective memory that bad? Well, maybe so ... Also, I'm tired of all the Top Ten Lists. Who cares, really? They just exist to create divisiveness.

Anyway, to sum up my year I watched a ton of movies, visited some museums (Tim Burton at MOMA), read far too few books, took some courses at a local Community College, wrote some stories, edited some stories, wrote next to nothing on my new novel, saw Lewis Black perform in Princeton (too funny), visited Poe's house in Philly in honor of the bicentennial of his birth, saw a great play called "Dead Ringer" at a small theater in Long Branch, saw "Waiting for Godot" with John Goodman and Bill Irwin in NYC and enjoyed the trials and tribulations of someone who is in general dissatisfied with life at this point. As Samuel Beckett says: "We go on..."


Posted by dgavron at 1:27 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 6 January 2010 1:48 AM EST
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Sunday, 27 September 2009
BEST SHOW ON TV
Mood:  chillin'
Now Playing: FRINGE
Topic: Art and Culture

Currently the best show on TV is FRINGE (FOX-TV) on Thursday nights. It just started it's second season and it's worth checking out. If you can rent/buy the first season on DVD then you'll be ahead of the game.

If it sounds like an X FILES rip-off you might be right, but this show has more heart and a better cast. FRINGE is a division of the FBI responsible for tracking unusual incidents that fit a certain "pattern" of abnormal activity. The shows deal with paranormal activity, psychokinesis and a lot of other big words that are splayed across the opening credits of the show. Things get weird and downright scary in some episodes as the agents track a terrorist organization known as ZFT that may be responsible for genetic manipulations in the populace. There's also a sinister corporation called Massive Dynamic helmed by none other than Leonard Nimoy (with an assist by Altered States' Blair Brown). There are a lot of references to old films and TV shows of the past that spark some homages for people with a vast history of television. The cast is wonderful. Australian actress Anna Torv leads the group as Olivia Dunham, an FBI agent who may have been experimented on in the past as a child. The only person who may know is Dr. Walter Bishop, who has just spent 17 years in a mental hospital and is now released uunder the care of his son, a globe-trotting shady entrepreneur who has been enlisted in the group under duress (or maybe it's just a good place to hide from his enemies). John Noble as Walter is a treat to watch. He's so out of touch with social norms that there's a certain naive quality to him, but his past hides a much darker side that he is trying to repress. There are a lot of skeletons in the respective closets of the main characters to explore. Lance Reddick as FBI chief Broyles is benevolent and sinister at the same time and Kirk Acevedo as Olivia's partner is a cornerstone of humanity and Olivia's right hand man until a shapeshifter took over his body. Oh yes, and that's not all ...


Posted by dgavron at 10:37 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 27 September 2009 10:56 PM EDT
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Friday, 30 May 2008
ART THAT INSPIRES
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: Art and Culture
Last week I attended a fascinating show at the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan. The artist Cai Guo Qiang exhibited some striking, unusual and brilliant works.

Most of his work is created using gunpowder as an element in forming his art. His politically and socially charged art follows the dictum "No destruction, no construction," a phrase lifted from the sayings of Chairman Mao.

The museum rotunda was consumed by a large structure of 8 ascending cars (white Chevy Cavaliers?) sprouting neon tubes that pulsed, representing a car being launched upward by a land mine or bomb. It was an imposing image, stretching from the bottom floor to the top — a destructive image that also was paradoxically quite stylish and beautiful.

The exhibit is over, but check out the link below for some artistically challenging, uplifting work by a major contemporary artist.

http://www.caiguoqiang.com/

Posted by dgavron at 2:24 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 6 May 2008
The Wounded Muse
Mood:  don't ask
Topic: Art and Culture
The recent article in Vanity Fair magazine about James Frey has my blood boiling. Here's a kid from a wealthy family who got his foot in the door of the publishing industry and thought he could get away with writing a fictionalized memoir. He lied about his so-called exploits. Let me say this again: He lied. And they weren't little lies. They were big ones. He lied about being in jail while his girlfriend committed suicide. He ws not in jail when this happened. He turned his back on someone who needed help.

He tried to model himself after macho writer Norman Mailer, Jack Kerouac and others, and he failed. Mailer and other writers have written fictionalized memoirs in the past, but they acknowledged that they were fiction. 

Frey claims he was led astray by agents and publishers who wanted to release the book as a "memoir" when he claimed all along it was a "novel." The people he dealt with disagree. Frey is just another bored rich kid who had nothing else to do but get high and write a "meaningful" account of recovery.

There is nothing he says that we can believe. And, oh yes, he doesn't practice the rules of grammar because he doesn't know the rules. He's not James Joyce. Joyce knew the rules and broke them.

Frey can't write, but he gets published, and now he's wallowing in all the controversy because he has a new book coming out about low-lifes in L.A. Don't patronize this hack. Whatever muse is speaking to this fraud is a corrupt one.

Buy "Tree of Smoke" by Denis Johnson instead. This guy can write. Life is short, read well.

Posted by dgavron at 9:55 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 6 May 2008 3:09 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 29 January 2008
Me, Myself & I
On Jan. 13th I attended the new Edward Albee play, "Me, Myself & I," a brilliant absurdist comedy by the world's preeminent playwright. The story concerns twin brothers and their attempt to establish their own identities and trying to over come a control-freak mother (played well by Tyne Daly). The highlight of the show is Brian Murray, as a doctor who is more of a comic observer on the bizarre proceedings. Murray is in fine form and perfectly in tune with Albee's sense of the absurd. Echoes of Pirandello and Beckett abound in this existential farce, well acted and directed. And the ending is a hoot. Recommended.

Posted by dgavron at 4:01 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 6 May 2008 3:05 PM EDT
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Underwater Photography
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: Art and Culture
Here's a link to view some of the work of photography Howard Schatz. He photographs his models underwater in these photos. Some of the pieces have a dream-like quality to them. Cool stuff.

http://www.popphoto.com/gallery.aspx?section_id=50&section_prefix=featuresamer&webtrends_section=featuresamer&article_id=4706&window_id=1&gallery_id=1148&page_number=1&seq=6&cnt=81&slide=on

Posted by dgavron at 3:45 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 29 January 2008 4:06 PM EST
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Monday, 28 January 2008
In The Humdrum
Mood:  not sure
Monotony is the enemy. As Beckett says: "I can't go on. I'll go on."
Follow Beckett.

Woody Allen's "Casandra's Dream" is bleak and very sad. The acting is great, the direction superb, but the end result is quite depressing. A sad downer from the great Woodman.

One of my music reviews made it to Medleyville.
See it here:
http://www.medleyville.us/2008/01/radiohead_in_rainbows.html#more

Check out http://www.medleyville.us, it's a great forum for independent music and contains some cool pictures and, of course, some of my reviews.

Posted by dgavron at 3:38 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 28 January 2008 3:39 PM EST
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Wednesday, 23 January 2008
Art and Culture 2008
Mood:  chatty
Topic: Art and Culture
I'll try not to make this diatribe long. The thing that usually ticks me off at this time of year is the AA nominations. Sure, sometimes they get it right, nominating Javier Bardem and Viggo Mortensen, as well as the Coen Brothers for "No Country For Old Men." NCOM was the BEST film of the year. Well acted and written, it was a dark view of contemporary life (although the film was set in 1980) about a battle of good vs. evil that ws slowly being won by the black hats. Tommy Lee Jones (always brilliant) is the wise old sage sheriff who is more appalled at what has happend to this country than he appears to be intyerested in finding the killer (Bardem).
The movie is twisty (you never know what's waiting around the corner) and dark dark dark. The ending is especially a jolt. It's unexpected, but dead on target given the theme of the film.

Now back to the other nominations. Tim Burton being overlooked for "Sweeney Todd" was a travesty. "Charlie Wilson's War" should have nailed a Best Director nod for Mike Nichols.

But any "Arts" institution that has honored Cher, Tatum, Eminem, 36 Mafia, Anna Paquin, Prince, Bon Jovi, Whoopi, Sofiya Coppola -- is beyond comprehension. Especially when you consider that Stanley Kubrick, Cary Grant, Richard Burton, John Garfield, Robert Mitchum, Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch and Robert Altman have never won awards.
What can you say?

The biggest joke about the AA nominations this year is in the Film Editing category. Let's see how many top-notch film critics and industry people get this one. Roderick Jaynes was nominated in the Best FIlm Editing category. There is no Roderick Jaynes. This is a pseudonym for Joel and Ethan Coen. They edit their own films (and like to joke around a bit). You can look this up on IMDB.com.

By the way, can anyone tell me the difference between the Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing categories?

For anyone who cares, here's my list of the Best of 2007:
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
ZODIAC
EASTERN PROMISES
SWEENEY TODD
RATATOUILLE
SUNSHINE
SICKO
CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR

Many more to see including:
THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY
JUNO
THERE WILL BE BLOOD
ATONEMENT
BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD
MICHAEL CLAYTON
LIONS FOR LAMBS
BEE MOVIE
THE GOLDEN COMPASS
MARGOT AT THE WEDDING
3:10 TO YUMA

The Academy Awards have nothing to do with ART. Once in a great while they get it right, but it's a popularity contest, folks.

Posted by dgavron at 3:09 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 23 January 2008 3:53 PM EST
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Tuesday, 8 January 2008
Focus
Mood:  don't ask
We all have the same amount of time. 24 hours. And yet it is more difficult now to focus on a single project than ever. There are so many things to do, books to read, concerts and plays and operas to attend. Trying to juggle them all is difficult. If I had all day and no job I think I would be able to handle it. Another novel to get working on. Stories and manuscripts to edit. Books to read (specifically Against The Day by Thomas Pynchon and Tree Of Smoke by Denis Johnson). Focus.

Posted by dgavron at 5:35 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 14 January 2008 10:22 AM EST
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