But these images from the Albert Kahn collection are autochromes -- the earliest true color photos -- and besides being nifty and nostalgic, they seem to live up to Kahn's goal to create a photographic record of the world in an "Archive of the Planet."
Having spent a lot of time in Greece, I particularly like this one:
Pat Lafayye, avocational Frogger prodigy, beat the fictional Holy Grail score. Once, at Fun Spot, Pat told me about how on Frogger, at a certain point it gets so difficult that there was "one true path." It's there, he said, but difficult to find. I guess Pat is now on that path.
The poetry of failed ambition, according to this delightful little essay in the Washington Post, of all places, about the retro-styled re-issue of the original WD-40 can! A sample:
Serious mechanics have kept it handy since the early 1960s, when it grew from a locally marketed San Diego product to nationwide availability. And serious mechanics still use it. But for generations it has also been the reliable helpmeet of the home klutz. WD-40 is to bad handymen what cream of mushroom soup is to bad cooks. You start with a little, applied close to the problem. Then you apply more. You swear like a stevedore and bash the offending mechanical object with something heavy. By the time you give up and take it to someone who actually knows how to fix it, whatever you've been working on is covered in a light glaze of oily ooze.
A glaze that smells sweet, sickly sweet, like the nectar that robotic bees would suck from mechanical flowers. If lawnmowers wore cologne, it would smell like WD-40, the Old Spice of the two-stroke engine.
Riddle me this, art-cognoscenti? Why is Frederic Church not as well known as William Turner? Does the Hudson not inspire as great art as (my alma mater) Heidelberg? Is it just that Church was American?
Such is the theme of a group show at Royal/T. In Bed Together is what it's called. I think it's metaphorical. Or, in the case of a signature piece in the show that also happens to be a painting that was presented upon my marriage, it may be partly literal. Some readers may have also been revelers at the vernissage thrown by Me, Ronni, and her twin sister, Marina, earlier this summer. Here is what I promised in the invitation:
To commemorate our nuptial adventure, Ronni's sister Marina has made a painting. That’s right: paint, canvas and stretchers — the old fashioned way of capturing epics afield for the audience at home. It is a huge canvas, one befitting the vistas of the Great Rift Valley. I do not what the canvas contains. No one does. It is a secret! But it is a secret that will soon be revealed — at the artist’s studio. Please join us for the unveiling. There will be red cloth and a gilded rope and singing horns. (Really; my brother is a brass master.) It will be just like when Manet unveiled Olympia. Except there are no nudes. Or maybe there are! Who knows? Not me!
That Saturday everyone was surprised when we pulled back the curtain on our very own personalized homage to Olympia! Everyone thought that my perspicacious goofing in the invitation meant I was in on the deal. I wasn't. Precisely because of my goofing, I was most shocked of all when I saw this:
As promised, the esteemed members of the Salon were scandalized.
And so now all seven feet of this painting now hangs on our wall. Or it did until yesterday, when it was borrowed to be featured in the show at Royal/T. It was requested for its depiction of a complicated relationship -- our complicated relationship: husband, wife, and twin, appearing together in symbolic composition. What it means exactly I'm not sure. I might be afraid to ask. But it was chosen as the poster image, which was flattering to all. Such a thing happened once before, in Japan, when a painting Marina had made of Ronni wearing a fake fur panda hat was chosen as the poster for a big museum show that was opening while we were all three in Japan, resulting in the odd experience of us wandering the streets of Tokyo and looking up to see an anime version of panda-headed ronni smiling back down at us. Like so, but much bigger:
That was the handbill we took home. If we could just combine these to have Ronni nude in a panda hat -- now that would be one vigorous artistic hybrid...
The Zombie Zeitgeist A full scale movement is on the lurch. But why the best zombie movie ever made a video game?
Believer interview with Mark Allen Digital artist and awesome gallerist Mark Allen talks about Tekken Torture Tournament and other projects where people were wired to machines and did strange things in public.
Believer interview with Marjane Satrapi Enlightening Q & A with the Persian cartoonist, memoirist, quick conversationalist in which she declares: “THE WORLD IS NOT ABOUT BATMAN AND ROBIN FIGHTING THE JOKER; THINGS ARE MORE COMPLICATED THAN THAT.”
Yeti Researcher Yet another 100-page issue of the world's top academic journal devoted scholarship about the Yeti, Bigfoot, Sasqatch, and other mystery primates worldwide. For researchers and lay audiences alike, the latest YR features a history of Sasquatch sightings in southern California, an update on the wily orang pendek of Sumatra, and a new look into Teddy Roosevelt's obsession with bagging a Bigfoot. As Editor-in-Chief, I promise you won't be disappointed.
Panda PowerPoint! I guess I don't mind being "the entertainment" when it's at Mark Allen's second annual Holiday Fry-B-Que. Presented: preliminary findings from my ongoing research into the most charismatic megafauna of all: Giant Pandas.
McSweeny's Presents: The World, Explained | Dec 9, 2006 For those who missed it, there will be more. World, Explained is going strong! Money was raised, laughs were had, and for those paying attention, small amounts of useful information about things like the aurora borealis were transmitted. Plus: Michael Cera = lovably funny. And Nick Diamonds' renditions of Dumb Dog and Hanging Tough are still in my head. As is that horribly catchy Fresh Step jam.
Jest Fest at Skylight Books Somehow I wound up hosting the 10th anniversary jubilee for Infinite Jest at Skylight Books. Because who doesn't love a jubilee, right? Despite being delirious with Hepatitis A (that's the mild, non-lethal kind; I'm not at risk for Hep B since I always go the needle share and choose clean-looking prostitutes), I managed to not mis-pronounce anyone's name and make an erudite joke and poke gentle fun at Michael Silverblatt.
McSweeny's Presents: The World, Explained | June 10, 2006 Number Three! Last one was sold out so we moved to a slightly larger theater. Andy Richter hosted, and his opening exegesis of CSI: Miami warmed the people up right. Evany Thomas presented her very scientific findings on the Secret Language of Sleep; Starlee Kine bared her neuroses to the world (or at least the 300 people in the audience); Josh Davis showed video of his 135-lb self sumo wrestling a 550-lb opera singer from San Bernardino; and Davy Rothbart closed it out with some Found Magazine magic. Grant Lee Phillips, Sam Shelton and Zooey Deschanel provided the music punctuation! I can still hear their rendition of We Are the Champions.
McSweeny's Presents: The World, Explained | Feb 11, 2006 The second in our series of precision comedy and fact-based entertainment extravaganzas benefiting 826LA. Patton Oswalt was kind enough to host, and Jon Brion joined in on the piano and guitar as thematic accompaniment. Presenters included: David Rees, Michael Colton, John Hodgman (along with his hirsuit troubadour, Jonathan Coulton), and me. Plus: a fashion show of exciting multi-user garmentry.
Little Gray Book Lecture at Galapagos How to Observe President's Day. Jonathan Coulton's technical wizardry has made this entire show available online. The summary from PRX: Sarah Vowell, John Hodgman and Joshuah Bearman on Presidents' Day, along with a fifteen-piece marching band and a new song about all forty-three presidents. My contribution? Yes, from Yeti Researcher. Again. Actually that was the first one. So I have only five stories!
July 25: TJ to LA -- A Night McSweeney's Readings I was honored to be part of a strange triptych along with Salvador Plascencia and Josh Kun. Sponsored, somehow, by La Ciudad magazine, we all packed into Beyond Baroque with no air conditions. 150 people showed at 7 o'clock on a Friday evening, which we took as a good sign of something. Sal held up and anxiously discussed drawings from his novel, Josh delivered an essay on the Dr. Moreau of Tijuana, and my shtick (again) was Pac Man and metaphysics, this time with fun slides.
October 8th: Skylight Books w/Stephen Elliott Fun times were had by all. Someone in the audience actually mistook me for an expert on the psychology human character. We ate shrimp cocktail and drank cheap wine and laughed at Bush and celebrated the certainty of right besting wrong in American democracy. A lot of good that did.