AUGUST 30, 2011

Videos, rather than photos. Not just the look and shape of a person, but their movements, what they are or and aren't distracted by, their relationship to the world reflected in gestures intended to achieve other things.


PUBLISHED BY HARPER’S MAGAZINE (EST. 1850), November 29, 2016, by Sharon J. Riley 




(I wrote this in May for the app about ten minutes after these events. Below is that list, now changed; verb tenses and words have been modified, and the whole thing has been chopped into paragraphs because long lists are a drag to read.)

Stuff That Happened at a DJ Gig in Chinatown

Most of this involved an Older Drunk Guy (ODG).

I arrived at the bar at 5 PM to meet Felipe, the bartender, who I had never met. The other half-dozen times I have DJed the Procedure night, Jessica Espeleta has been the bartender. (She is, in fact, the only bartender I've ever seen at Melody Lounge.) I was filling in for Richard Chartier, the man who started the Procedure night a year ago. He was entertaining guests that night and needed a break. I owed him one since the last time I tried to DJ, my Traktor set-up borked and I played half of one track all loud and crackly and super garb, and then abandoned trying to play music out of my laptop. Since attendance at Procedure rarely exceeds ten or twelve humans — once a dog put us over twenty — I figured I could handle a last-minute hand-off.

While I was waiting for Felipe, I was talking on the phone, turned away from the bar's front door. ODG was lurking. He ignored my Obvious Phone Engagement Stance™ and called out to me: "Is this one of those places that opens whenever it wants?" I turned and delivered what I thought was a universal gesture: the shruggie. He kept asking unheard questions, walking in circles.

Once the bar opened, ODG walked in. Felipe helped me set up. While I got ready to play, ODG talked loudly on the phone to someone, apparently about another phone. "So tell me WHOSE phone you have now? Do you know anything about them? WHY do you have it?" I expected I was going to have at least one interaction with ODG in the next few hours.

I had an interaction with ODG almost immediately, when I played my first song — "Tangled Up In Blue." (It was Bob's 75th birthday, so: duh.) ODG walked past me and asked, loudly, "Are you going to be playing a lot more Dylan?" "Probably not," I said, though I hadn't made up my mind. "Good," he replied, planting himself on a nearby banquette. Wheeeee.

After an hour or so, he came up and asked me if I had been playing John Cage. Though I hadn't, it wasn't a bad guess. I told him as much and he walked backwards, mumbling and gesturing.

When he sat nearby, he was in the company of a Handsome Younger Man (HYM).

About half an hour before I finished, ODG walked up and said, "The music is much improved since the Dylan. If wanted to hear another whiny Jew, I'd go back to Chicago."

I was playing a long track. I cued up another Dylan song to end with. ODG waved to everybody and left.

While my last song played, HYM came out of the bathroom. "Did you see that guy I was with? Did he leave? Oh shit." HYM ran out of the bar.

Once I was packed, I pulled my bag over my shoulder and walked towards the bar to get some water. A man sitting on the banquette gave me a silent thumbs up. I returned it.



I'd like to say that reading this essay by Jia Tolentino about navigating online offense made me think of the below, but the connection was just chance. I was looking for some quote about cities and I found an echo.

This line in Tolentino's essay jumped out and fell into a Café Bustelo can and made a lot of noise:

And so, there is an unspoken, horrible idea that contemporary political activity starts and perhaps ends with building a really good politicized identity—a process that, again, relies on disapproval, disaffiliation, offense. 

Your narrative, your beliefs, your words in the world, the phrases that ally you with others — all of these depend on the value they are accorded by others. This idea existed before the internet — ppl were always terrible whew — but now the balance sheet is updated instantly. The social delay pedal is torqued to such a wickedly small interval that we can barely tell the difference between signal and return. Here is how Michel de Certeau put it thirty-five years ago:

The credibility of a discourse is what first makes believers act in accord with it. It produces practitioners. To make people believe is to make them act. But by a curious circularity, the ability to make people act — to write and to machine bodies — is precisely what makes people believe. Because the law is already applied with and on bodies, “incarnated” in physical practices, it can accredit itself and make people believe that it speaks in the name of the “real.” It makes itself believable by saying: “This text has been dictated for you by Reality itself.” People believe what they assume to be real, but this “reality” is assigned to a discourse by a belief that gives it a body inscribed by the law. The law requires an accumulation of corporeal capital in advance in order to make itself believed and practiced. It is thus inscribed because of what has already been inscribed: the witnesses, martyrs, or examples that make it credible to others. It imposes itself in this way on the subject of the law: “The ancients practiced it,” or “Others have believed it and done it,” or “You yourself already bear my signature on your body.”

In other words, normative discourse “operates” only if it has already become a story, a text articulated on something real and speaking in its name, i.e., a law made into a story and historicized (une loi historiée et historicisée), recounted by bodies. Its being made into a story is the presupposition of its producing further stories and thereby making itself believed. And the tool ensures precisely the passage from discourse to the story through the interventions that incarnate the law by making bodies conform to it and thus make it appear to be recited by reality itself. From initiation ceremonies to tortures, every social orthodoxy makes use of instruments to give itself the form of a story and to produce the credibility attached to a discourse articulated by bodies.

   — Michel de Certeau, from "The Practice of Everyday Life," 1980.




How Not to Be an Earthworm

[This whole chapter has the faintly phosphorescent humor of decay about it. It is as outmoded as a treatise on how to treat javelin-wounds, now that we know even earthworms are not inviolate.]

Streamlined to ultimate for functional performance the earthworm blindly eats his way, riddling and honeycombing the ground to a depth of ten feet or more as he swallows.

                  — Anatomy Underfoot, J.-J. CONDE

Other wars have made men live like rats, or wolves, or lice, but until this one, except perhaps for the rehearsal in Spain, we have never lived like earthworms.

Now we bend our minds, with the surprised intensity of any nonplused [In the face of continued disapproval I think this should have two esses, just as I think the word busses is proper in the plural for both a vehicle and a kiss. Buses, indeed! I am not nonplused.] creatures, to existing as gracefully as possible without many of the things we have always accepted as our due: light, free air, fresh foods, prepared according to our tastes. It can be done, of course, since we are humans as well as rats, wolves, lice and earthworms.

You may have heard of one woman in England who withdrew to her tidy little bomb-shelter in the garden when the first siren sounded, and emerged, rather dreamily, some two weeks later. She'd been quite comfy, she told her worried neighbors, but she did hope the blinkin' raids would not always last quite so long.

      — M.F.K. Fisher, from How to Cook a Wolf, 1942.



More Light

In painting, how light is utilized distinguishes one painting from another regardless of when it was painted; while in music, how pitch is organized, from the more empirical pre-tonal era until serialism, characterizes chronologically the history of Western music. A brief breakdown of light structures adopted by painters since Giotto might best describe what I mean:

     Light from nature

     raking light: Carvaggio, Vermeer

     overhead light: Watteau, Courbet, Pissarro

     refracted light: Monet

     intellectualized light: Seurat


     Pictorial light, not from nature

     constructed light: Giotto, Mantegna, Picasso, de Chirico

     invented light: Piero della Francesca, Rothko

    nonmodulated light: Mondrian, Pollock

    light without source: Rembrandt


With the advent of Cage, one by necessity must ask questions that were previously avoided, never thought about when composing a musical composition. My preoccupation with the fascinating aspect of how painters deal with light is only because of Cage. In effect, what I am suggesting is not that music should explore or imitate the resources of painting, but that the chronological aspect of music's development is perhaps over, and that a new "mainstream" of diversity, invention and imagination is indeed awakening. For this we must thank John Cage.

  — Morton Feldman, 1982.



January, 2015: An interview with FKA twigs, V Magazine.

Mary 20, 2015: International Klein Blue, Departures.

June 18, 2015: Farmer in the Deli, The New York Times Magazine.

August 13, 2015: "Compton" and related events, Los Angeles Times.

September 25, 2015: Lana Del Rey and The Weeknd, Los Angeles Times

November 2, 2015: An interview with Ottessa Moshfegh, Los Angeles Times.

November 7, 2015: Imagined HR files for Adele, Taylor Swift and Kanye West, Los Angeles Times.

November 19, 2015: Autechre, Los Angeles Times.

December 4, 2015: "St. Marks Is Dead" review, The New York Times Books Review.

December 11, 2015: Adele, Los Angeles Times.



The host of KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic, who is apparently a professional DJ who DJs in places that are not radio stations, is talking to Peaches. In the course of their conversation, he has revealed that he is not familiar with either Suicide or Micachu & The Shapes. Of Missy Elliott, he said, "She's funny."