Sunday, December 30, 2007

Seraphim Fell Hard For It

Crossposted from Maassive.com:

This week, I finally got around to watching Seraphim Falls, a western filmed in New Mexico that played in theaters briefly last year. My coworker, his partner and I hooked my laptop up to their projector and we watched the film unfold across the length of the wall of his living room. It killed my laptop doing it, but in the end, reinstalling Vista (again) was worth it.

Starring two Irishmen as American Civil War veterans, the film’s too sparse on dialogue to hear the lilting holes in their assumed American accents. Hell, from the opening scene, you know that Brosnan’s character probably hasn’t spoken to anyone in three years.

He’s a mountain man, one minute building a fire and the next running for his life. Throughout the film, Brosnan’s motivated only by shame and survival, as Neeson and a gang of bounty hunters chase him across the New Mexico wilderness. You don’t know what Brosnan’s done, but it’s something horrific and old and soul-scarring, both for him and Neeson, who won’t stop until he’s personally put a bullet in Brosnan’s head. The chase is exquisite and brutal and logical and long; you might call the plot slow, but the scenes are white-knuckling and physically exhausting.

It’s the kind of Western I complain they don’t make anymore. It obeys the genre rigidly, and yet completely transcends it. It’s the thinking man’s action film; a little James Dickey with a lot of Serge Leone. Man against man. Man against nature. Man against his own soul. In the last quarter, it gets downright metaphysical, but it’s both apt and intriguing and wide open to interpretation. That’s just how I like it (and why My Name is Nobody is one of my all-time favs). I spent a good twenty minutes lying in bed that night meditating on the multiple layers of meaning in the title, “Seraphim Falls.” Plural on purpose, I concluded.

Anyway, it satisfied me like so few films do. Totally recommended, dude.

Recon from the Total Pig's Beautiful Sty

REVEALED: Images from home prove Gwyneth Doland really IS a total pig.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Suffer for Fashion

The belt of bourbon from Evangelo’s is settling nicely inside me; it crawls up my spine onto my head like a skullcap, making the post-sunset cold manageable as I huff to Palace Avenue where Lewellen Contemporary awaits with a confusion of well-dressed people meandering inside.

Project Runway’s current season features Elisa Jimenez, a couture fashion designer from New Mexico who relocated to Santa Fe after spending a number of years in New York making clothes for the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Courtney Love. Lewellen is hosting a fashion show featuring the work of Jimenez, who is also the daughter of famed sculptor Luis Jimenez.

I was made hip to this shindig and invited by CeCe Kurzweg, the wife of music producer John Kurzweg, who is also one of the models for the show. I drank warm honey wine and watched beautiful people who couldn’t possibly consume more than 200 calories a day slither in expensive clothing, looking bemused, uninterested, yet delighted to see one another.

I run into Larry Mitchell who has just been nominated for a Grammy for his work as producer of Johnny Whitehorse's Totemic Flute Chants in the Best Native American Album category. Brian Hardgroove, who I haven’t seen in a while, tells me about his own production work in Hong Kong with Chinese punk band Demerit.

Before the actual show begins a blue line of tape is laid down on the floor like a landing strip, which will guide the models to their final destination. Then announcements, then images from Project Runway show providing contextual information on Jimenez. But like any reality show we only see a character, a blip of images and segments pretending to construct a person; it’s a lesson in post-modernity where one reality views a faux reality for insight on what’s about to happen in front of our faces.

One by one the models cascade down the stairs where 100 or so my newest and most fabulous friends await. The women wear a series of multi-colored shreds with puffy backpacks, and the men (who are shirtless for some reason) sport the backpacks and smile sheepishly; I’m reminded of my neglected gym membership going to waste.

Once all have descended and congregated around a table with a tied bundle of clothing upon it, Jimenez appears at the foot of the stairs to a round of applause. She too wears the strategic shreds but somehow makes it work to her full advantage. After a few announcements, we are instructed to untie the bundle and try on clothes. It’s like spilling a bucket of chum in shark infested waters with the airs of a JC Penny fire sale. The pile of clothing comes apart like an anthill in the rain. I don’t participate...

Monday, December 17, 2007

preggers

Sometimes really cool promo stuff comes to my office. Advanced copies of knitting books (beware the uncorrected proof of a pattern!), movie screeners, the occasional random t-shirt. But today I think some genius marketer takes the cake.

The movie: Juno (about a pregnant high school girl, blah, blah, blah)
The swag: A highlighter in the shape of a pregnancy test.

Gross. At least the ink is orange, not yellow. But still. Ha, ha, ha, pregnancy tests are funny. And who doesn't want to mark something as important with an item in the shape of something you pee on? Especially if you're the type of person who chews on your pen.

Ugh.

Friday, December 14, 2007

a-ha!

That's it. I've been trying to remember all day what I was going to do today, this weekend and, of course, the unTRAINed gallery opening at the Railyard. Blogged about here before, an missed by myself due to a cold, I love the idea of a cold wintery night, a hot drink (um, I'm bringing my own just to be safe) and art in a funky location.

Hooray! My evening has been saved. Now I have to go and re-myspace a friend who I asked if anything was happening.

And tomorrow (or Sunday morning, depending on how motivated I am) at 11 am The Red Balloon at the Screen. Yipee! I hope it's as good as it was when I last saw it, probably in 1988...

Happy weekend!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

shit

I ran around my house super antsy last night trying to figure out what to do with my night and to remember what it was that I'd forgotten. Naomi Klein at the Lensic, that's what. Errrr. Yes, it was sold out, but with the Lannan readings there are always a few last minute tickets that become available. And you can watch from the lobby. But instead I just sat at home reading, not that there's anything wrong with that.

I guess that's one of the pitfalls of working on things so far in advance. Ask me what's going on tonight and I'll look blankly past you, ask what's happening next Thursday and chances are I can list several fun things. So I'm constantly forgetting to go to things I want to go to. This week it's even worse because we've got a week off, so the next issue of the Reporter goes all the way to January 1st.

Maybe if I mark down my plans for the break publicly I'll remember, or my twos of friends who read this blog can call and remind me:
Knitting (time and location top secret)
Kilt and Alchemical Burn show at High Mayhem (Dec. 28)
New Year's, um, I'm not sure yet, there are several options in the works
Faralito walk on Christmas Eve (yes, I will probably need a reminder for this, I'm that Christmas-y)

That's it? A whole week and that's all I've got? There's more to do, I'm just not feeling very committed at the moment.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

You Have No Rights


At 5:30 pm today, I will be introducing Matthew Rothschild, editor of The Progressive and author of You Have No Rights, Stories of America in an Age of Repression. If you haven't read this book, you really should. It's not just well-written, but it's a stunning and frightening compendium of stories of people who have been interrogated, arrested, detained and everything in between for doing nothing more than exercising freedoms of speech (and in some cases, for just no reason at all).

wait, you can get paid for that?

The CCA ends its Vox Performa series tonight with Gary Mex Glazner and reg e gaines. According to the Web site Glazner has left our little adobe town for the bright lights of NYC. Good for him, bummer for us. Glazner is not only a wonderful poet, but one of those people who makes the world better by doing what he loves. His Alzheimer's Poetry Project is one of those amazing works of art therapy that any artist is capable of but just the kind of thing that so many artists forget about while they're caught up in the ego of it all to think about.

Both Glazner and gaines are poets that work with musicality instead of just words. For the performance a local group Adobe Gillis (whose name I get but can't give props for, it's just too damn punny for my taste, though clever) joins Glazner.

I'm not normally a fan of live poetry, or hell, even modern poetry. Give me Lord Byron or Coolridge any day, but it's worth checking out, even for the literary snobbish, like myself.

Friday, November 30, 2007

blurred vision

I think there's something wrong with the lens on the projector in one of the theaters at DeVargas. Every time I go there the movie seems to be just a touch out of focus. Last night, at the Film Festival's showing of Control, it was really bad--giving me a headache until this morning.

The movie is good. Could use a bit of trimming and more music, but still enjoyable. The actors are fantastic. Unfortunately, the copy that we got to see had an entire reel in sepia, not to mention the focus problem.

After the movie a friend went to talk to the theater manager, who blamed the problems on the Festival. I'm sure the Fest folks would blame it, at least partly on DeVargas. I suppose it doesn't really matter who is at fault for the people who paid their money and spent nearly two hours straining their eyes.

Tonight I was going to head back over to DeVargas for another film, but I think I'll pass on the cinema for awhile.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

movie time

Well, after a lot of hard work Emiliano Garcia-Sarnoff and I finished up our story on the Santa Fe Film Festival, and now have some free time to enjoy it.

I didn't make it to the movies last night--saving that for tonight--but I did get over to the kick-off party at the Cowgirl. I got there about 1/2 hour before The Santa Fe All-Stars played and the place was already pretty busy, especially for a Wednesday. By the time the band started it was pretty packed, though there was still room on the dancefloor for a few couples to get their groove on. Singer/guitarist Joe West encouraged people to keep dancing and seemed to be really enjoying the mix of locals and out-of-towners at the show, pointing out when certain characters from Santa Fe showed up. For anyone who hasn't seen the All-Stars they play great straightforward bluegrass and a few strange covers (ie: "Shake Your Booty").

As the recent recipient of a mandolin I was super stoked to see Sharon Gilchrist, who everyone says is one of the best in town. I can't disagree with that at all. I think I learned a little bit by watching and listening to her, but I found myself forgetting to pay attention, instead carried away by the speed and skill she showed on the instrument.

When the band took a break I turned around and saw the the place was packed. Friday or Saturday night packed, with more people showing up. At that point I decided to split, it'd been a long day and was getting to the point where I couldn't see the musicians anyway. Apparently after I left there was a celebrity sighting (Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire), but I probably wouldn't have spotted them in the giant mass of people.

Tonight it's to the actual movies, Control, and perhaps Diving Bell and the Butterfly tomorrow after the Underground Gallery opening.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Radius Books!



So I'm out and about looking for books for this year's gift guide, when I fall in love with one particular book (not gonna tell you which one and ruin the suspense). Lo and behold, I see it's from a new local press, Radius Books. The name sounds vaguely familiar, but it took me several days to realize it's the new press started by my friend Darius Himes. And, yes, I'm still including it because I didn't realize it was his press until days had passed (and I just had to doublecheck how to spell his name, which is not a good sign). The launch for the press is this Friday, 6 to 8 pm
in the old Luna Building, 519 Cerrillos Road, (between Paseo and Manhattan and next to Sage Bakehouse) and I hear it's going to be lots of fun. So take a break from movie watching, be sure to stop by!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Not yo' Robin Williams toy show

A little birdie told me that someone we all know and adore is going to have a toy exhibited at this show:


Friday, November 23, 2007

3 ring circus

On Thanksgiving weekend the Circus comes to town. But this being Santa Fe that doesn't mean ringmasters and lions (or animal rights activists slowing down traffic with protests). It means performance art--aerial artists, trapeze, capoeira, that kind of thing. And good music. Hooray for Circus Luminous--which SFR's performing arts writer Angelo Jaramillo wrote about here. I'm most excited to hear The brilliant Dullards (yes that's lower case b), one of my favorite local bands.

I recently discovered that I'd lost my copy of The Defector and wanted to hear it again. (I used to have a purple one, but the new one is black. That's pretty too.) One of my favorite things about this album is my own karmic tie with it. I missed them play at the 2006 High Mayhem fest (the only thing I missed) and had to hear about it for months. Then I got the album, fell in love, reviewed it, spelled the name wrong initially, and promptly lost my copy. But then I drove all the way to Taos to spend the night, saw them play and have almost never missed a performance since. So when I wanted to hear it happened to be the night of show at High Mayhem. I had my $10 for a new copy, ran up to the merch table and felt my face drop when there was no dullard's album for me to pick up. Next step: Track down a Dullard. Nope. Two of 'em told me they had lots of them at home, which was nice and all, but didn't help me out in my obsessive musical craving moment. Next High Mayhem show, there it was, on the table. One copy. I grabbed it, handed over my 10 bucks and made a comment about how "I believe this is here for me." to Mike Smith (of We Drew Lightning), who had no idea what the hell I was talking about, and bounded around like an idiot with my new CD. It's so much nicer to listen to than the tracks on the Dullard's myspace page.

Anyway, I think they're great. And the music they play will go very nicely with all the movement work. I can't wait for Saturday night.

Ray Charles Ives is also playing (that's 2/3 of D Numbers) and also great. They make me want to dance, so it'll be interesting to see if I can stay in my seat and quell my desire to hop on stage with the real dancers!

Monday, November 19, 2007

full weekends

There are times when I hear people, especially young people, complain that there's nothing to do at night. Or that it's too expensive. This weekend though there were a lot of good events all with low or no covers.

Friday night I hit up Cate Cosler's show at Back Road Pizza. Cosler grew up here in Santa Fe, moved away and has recently moved back. For Friday's show she was joined by a friend from Colorado, Ramaya, on guitar. The two sounded great together, despite the fact that they hadn't played out together in about a year and he learned several of the songs that afternoon.

Saturday it was over to High Mayhem for a benefit for local producer Quincy Adams, aka Q!. Q has mastered a good majority of High Mayhem's releases and has been a big part of that, as well as Albuquerque's, musical community for a long time. Unfortunately, he's very sick and his friends were working to raise some cash for his medical bills. A lot of really great art was donated by artists, my favorite, though I couldn't afford to take it home, was a small gold leaf piece by Yozo Suzuki. Apparently a pretty decent about of cash was gathered and everyone seemed pretty happy. High Mayhem is run by local artists and mainly supported by such. It and its patrons don't have the million dollar bank accounts behind them that a few other organizations do but it was nice, sitting by the entry table, to see people give as much as they could to help out a member of their community.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Date with Cate

OK, so I only heard about this performance this morning. Tonight, friend-of-the-Reporter Cate Coslor will be performing at Backroad Pizza at about 8pm. Stop by if you're free.


Cate Conslor with her band Slowrosa


In the meantime, though, check out some of her tunes on her Myspace page.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Amuse Boosh

Man... Architecture in Helsinki was great last night. They played the New Old Luna, which, if you can take the promoter's word, will be the site of a lot more great shows in the coming months. That is, assuming the Santa Fe's hipster contingent continues to turn out en masse.

Those of you in attendance may remember that mid-way through the show back-up singer (and everything-else-player) Kellie Sutherland took over the mic to promote their favorite comedy show, The Mighty Boosh, which has a new TV season coming out this week on BBC 3.

I whooped at that reference: I've been a huge of fan of the comedy duo ever since discovering their radio show about two zookeepers: a self-proclaimed "jazz maverick" and his sidekick, "the king of the mods." The TV show probably won't be available in the US for quite some time (though full episodes were on YouTube for awhile). However! All is not lost.

The entire original radio series is online, for free, as downloadable mp3s. Just follow this link.

Friday, October 26, 2007

What's in your hea-ea-ead? Zombie. Zombie.

Last weekend, I took the Center for Contemporary Arts up on their free noon-time press screening offer. I'm not the film critic here, but hey, a free zombie movie is a free zombie movie. And blogging counts as "press," right?

The film was Fido, a kitschy Leave-It-To-Beaver zombie comedy. Emiliano says he didn't dig it, but he can get his ass a-bloggin' if he wants to dispute my assessment. I thought it was fantastic.

Apparently New Mexico is at the end of the movie rotation line. Fido (2006) was released on DVD on October 23 - it opens here at the Cinematheque today. But, the small screen is still far inferior to the big one, and Fido's the perfect horror film for the whole family.

Well, it's not exactly horror. Somewhere along the line, the zombie comedy became it's own sub-genre. It's no Shaun of the Dead, but I don't think it was intended to be.



The opening scene lays out the premise in a fairly authentic looking news reel: In lieu of World War II, some sort of radioactive astronomical phenomenon swung right past the earth, reanimating the dead. Thus began the Zombie Wars, which ended with a mad scientist design a collar capable of suppressing the zombie's appetite for flesh.

The film is set in a small Main Street town, where a slave class of zombies has emerged. Zombies deliver milk, deliver papers, mow lawns, walk dogs, serve mint juleps ... and no one wants to be the last family on the block to have their very own house zombie. Breadwinners will put themselves deep in the red to ensure no-return funerals for their families. It's a world where old people are considered dangerous--"When the heart stops, ZomCom start," goes the jingle for the local anti-zombie corporation--and families who keep unregistered zombies risk being exiled to the zombie wasteland outside the city's gates.

Fido is Lassie, with a zombie in place of a collie. Young Timmy's the local friendless loner, who comes to find a friend and father figure in his family's new zombie, played by the disturbingly short-haired and beardless Scottish comedian Billy Connolly. Dylan Baker (the pedophile psychologist from Happiness) plays Timmy's milquetoast and largely absent Dad, while Carrie Anne Moss (The Matrix's Trinity) is Timmy's sexually unfulfilled, emerging feminist mother. Tim Blake Nelson (Delmar from O Brother) also cameos as the friendly neighborhood playboy--think Quagmire from Family Guy--who keeps a buxom blond zombie instead of a blow-up doll.

The plot follows that of any boy-meets-monster flick (Iron Giant, Harry & the Hendersons), where fear is gradually replaced by trust, then love, while the monster conquers its inherently destructive nature and learns to be a member of the family. Like all great zombie films, Fido is not without it's political edge: racism, sexism, political paranoia. The positions, though, are unobtrusive; you think about it for a second, and move on.

There's more homages to 50s-era television than there is Romero-class gore. So, all in all, Fido's a lightly dark comedy, and fairly family friendly film, that is, if you're grown up, and you need a Halloween film for your faint-of-heart parents.

Monday, October 22, 2007

music and movie madness

Friday night I left the office about 4:45, ran home (literally), jumped in my car, raced to the community college and filled in, last minute, on KSFR's Cinema Talk. I've filled in on the Friday evening (from 5:25-6 pm) show a few times, but normally with a little more notice and time to prepare. I'd only happened to catch For the Bible Tells Me So, which meant I mostly listened and asked questions about the other two movies Chris Quinn (one of the show's hosts) had seen. Both Gone Baby Gone and Michael Clayton sounded interesting after the show, though neither were films I'd wanted to see before hand.

After the radio I headed down to the Mine Shaft to check out my big brother's band. In order to avoid any kind of conflict of interest we only put the show in the listings and the rest was a grassroots effort to get people out to dance. I was happy that the Pasatiempo writer Rob DeWalt gave the band some ink and hopefully it helped the turnout. The crowd for US Pipe and the Balls Johnson Dance Machine didn't seem to know what to expect at first. An 11 person funk band isn't exactly a normal New Mexico night. But eventually people started to groove. At one point two women and one man had the best dance-off I've seen in years. One of the bandmembers told me later that she was trying to watch from the stage because it was so good it was distracting. Because it was the big bro I was there for the entire show, leaving me filled up on music for the weekend.

Instead of going to the Hat Show at High Mayhem, which I really wanted to attend and throw my name in, I went to the movies on Saturday and spent the rest of the night at home. SFR's Emiliano Garcia-Sarnoff and Cinena Talk's other host, John Dupuy, hit the movies at about 10 am for a preview of Fido and I joined up with them later for Gone Baby Gone and Rendition. Neither movie really got me excited, the way I'd hoped they would, but both were good in their own way. Gone was well acted, with a moral dilemma not easily solved, which left the three of us in very different places. Two of us agreed with the characters choice, the other was disgusted with first him and then us. Somehow the guys decided they hadn't had enough cinema for the day and we went to Rendition next. When I left I'd enjoyed the movie, the more it sits with me though the more I don't feel anything. Again, it was well acted, but the pregnant wife bothers me because it seemed so melodramatic and unnecessary (and maybe a little too Marianne Pearl). But if actors are going to push politics I'd rather they do it in the form of a movie, even a mediocre one, than by politicking and destroying the barrier of fantasy that I like to surround a movie star. In fact, David Denby, whose reviews I tend not to like, discusses the difference between modern and classic movie stars in a great New Yorker article, "Fallen Idols." He discusses the lack of drawing power stars now have and the line studios used to have the ability to draw between the stars and their personal lives, lives which we now are all to familiar with.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

the naked truth

I know this blog is probably more intended for Santa Fe-related arts and culture events but, let's face, it, TV is an important part of contemporary cultural life. True, we pretty much never cover TV in SFR (because we're not big or important enough to get TV screeners), but I gotta believe we've got readers who, like myself, occasionally watch the old idiot box.
As a general rule, I don't have any shows that I make a point of watching when they air, but I do have cable and Comcast recently rolled out On Demand, which means I can catch up on things that are out there in the zeitgist and see what the hoopla is all about.
So I did: I checked out HBO's latest, Tell Me You Love Me and I am now scarred for life. The show follows three screwed up couples as they live their screwed-up lives, talk about their screwed-up lives in therapy and screw. All the couples are white and some variation of middle class and are, in my opinion, mind-bogglingly awful. They are not particularly smart, or interesting, or funny. The youngest couple are, at least, attractive. The sex is graphic, but not in a porn way, more like if you happened to walk in on real people who are not fat having sex. The show also includes a storyline involving the therapist, Jane Alexander, who has her own personal issues. And who also has lots of sex with her husband. Which they show. Now, I realize it reflects poorly on me that I don't really want to see senior citizens having sex, but you know what? I don't think anyone else does either. And yes, when I am a senior citizen, I hope I am still having sex, but I will not be insulted if no one wants to see it.
The way in which they show is directed, cinematically and otherwise, is with a sense of reality TV thrown in. These are not well-known actors, they look a bit like regular people, nothing very dramatic ever happens. Often the couples just sit around not liking one another very much, eating meals, not saying what they are thinking. It's excruciating and mind-bogglingly boring. It's crazy that this is a TV show and even weirder that I'm watching it ("What will happen next? Will she go to the bathroom?). I doubt the show will survive past a season because all it really proves is that, no, fact is not stranger than fiction. Watching uninteresting people have uninteresting problems and hump one another is neither enjoyable nor interesting. But I guess it is new.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Terr-ibly

Jim Terr, writer, actor, filmmaker, cybersquatter and a Winner this week, stopped by the office today to say hi and remind me to watch the Bush-visits-Iran spoof up on YouTube. I can't recommend it--it's kinda awful--but I can post it for you to form your own conclusions.

Double Feat

Cross-posted from Maassive.com

It’s not uncommon for me to see two movies over the weekend. It is however unusual for either of the films to be any good. This weekend was especially unusual in that on both occasions I left the theater struck numb with satisfaction.

On Saturday afternoon, it was Michael Clayton, a legal thriller that scored a whopping 90% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m a big fan of Clooney, but I’m not always a big fan of “directorial debuts” by screenwriters, even if they’re somewhat notable. In this case, it’s Tony Gilroy, writer of the Bourne Trilogy. However, when you’ve got Steven Soderbergh, Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella producing the film, you know the shit’s been vetted. Plus, Robert Elswit directed the photography, and looking at his IMDB page I realize he may indeed be my favorite cinematographer ever: Syriana, Magnolia, Goodnight & Goodluck. I think it’s safe to say the film was probably designed to net the three stars, Clooney, Tilda Swinton and Tom Wilkinson each an Oscar nomination. That usually bugs me, but in this case, they’re all three overdue. Anyway, the film was brilliant, and I wish reviewers would take note that the term “gripping” should only be applied to films of this caliber.

Tonight, I hauled ass to the Cinematheque at the Center for the Contemporary Arts to catch the single Sunday screening of Chronicle of an Escape, or, in its native Spanish, Cronica de una fuga. One of my favorite films of all time is Four Days in September, which I frequently use (along with Battle of Algiers) to illustrate the thin grey line between terrorists and freedom fighters. Set in Argentina during the junta, Four Days follows a group of students who kidnap the American ambassador, because, by their rationale, only by holding an important foreigner hostage will they succeed in getting their message aired on television and securing the release of several political prisoners. Chronicle of an Escape is the perfect companion film. I hope they package the two as a box set.

The films follow a minding-his-own-business Argentinian soccer player who is erroneously fingered as a member of a revolutionary guerrilla group. Secret police kidnap him and throw him into a boarded up mansion, where he and more than a dozen other young men are tortured, starved, and prepared for execution. The film was obviously working with a smaller budget than Four Days , and perhaps the characters weren’t as well developed. That was to be expected. When your set is a bare room with rotten beds, production values don’t tend to soar. And when your characters spend the bulk of the movie cowering in corners and wearing blindfolds, well, that’s part of the dehumanization of torture, isn’t it? But really, the interesting thing is that both films revolve around kidnappings and blindfolds, on opposite sides of Argentina’s political war. Which is justified, which is not? That’s the thin grey line.

Monday, October 15, 2007

something for everyone

Saturday night's "Level" party, part of Design Week, did that thing that too many Santa Fe institutions try to do: please everyone, and end up pleasing no one.

Sure the party was fun, but that fun came from spending time with friends, not the bands or activities. Outside was a mini-skateboard park that provided the "family friendly" atmosphere, and probably a lot of bruises later when drunk 20-somethings who hadn't been on a board in some 10 years decided to try out the half-pipe.

Inside was a smattering of bands whose most obvious connection was that they knew the event planners. When I first showed up a man in rainbow tie dyed pants and light up fairy wings played the guitar while a woman sat on the floor with a wooden xylophone. He later played in a band with the DJ from Terra-ist Sound System, who was the second act I caught (I left for awhile to grab some dinner). Lady Processor sang with the System, then with Miss Ginger. The rotating musicians gave off the impression that whoever had the booking decision found their friends and their friends and had them play. Despite these connections the music didn't have much consistency or flow and wasn't really what anyone group of people wanted to see.

Advertisements for the party said 8-?, but failed to mention that alcohol sales would be shut down promptly at 11 pm. I'm not even sure that the people who showed up after than knew alcohol had ever been served, but it all worked out, because many people brought their own. Around midnight the evenings host got on stage and began telling everyone to pour out their drinks or they'd be shut down, calling the police "pigs" and creating an odd and out of place spectacle. Why a party that was (supposedly) permitted to last until sunrise would be in danger of being shut down was unclear. There was no sign of police, but everyone complied and tried to continue. Chispa, a local electronic DJ and artist, set up and rumors began to fly that he was it, that the party was over, through three more DJs (Walker, Carlisle McQueen and Feathericci) had hauled equipment to the space. A few ideas about where to continue were thrown around and eventually the DJs and a few of their friends ended up in a garage near Owl's Liquor. Ironically, just as Design Week's Luna space was covered with art, so was the last minute after party. The garage was offered up by a local artist and the intimate and decorated room was organically the feel that Design Week organizers tried to replicate, without much luck, in the warehouse. In the garage someone ended up wearing a piece of the art--a giant swirl that resembled a 9--and others danced with a dragon-like figure that hung from the ceiling. At the warehouse someone made out on one of the beds and a few people watched the videos, but mostly the art was ignored, as well as poorly labeled, giving the artists almost no recognition for their hard work.

The after party offered a good example of how a reproduction of the organic can just ooze contrivance.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Trainspotted



Props to Aran Donovan in our classified-ad department for inviting me out to the unTRAINed opening on Friday night at the ... err ... how do I describe where it was held? OK, I think I've got it. You know SITE Santa Fe, that art space lauded last month in the NY Times? Well, let's imagine that one of the installations caught on fire a la Charles Saatchi and you, the patron-peruser, had to make a mad dash for the back exit (I say back, because, really, if you ran out the front, you'd run face first into that awesome white-pole installation). So, keep imagining with me ... You run out the back door ... and smack into a box car and a luxury train car. That, friends, was the place to be Friday night. Or at least it was the place I was, and I wouldn't have been anywhere else. Same goes for Emiliano and Co., though it looks like I beat him to the blog.

According to Aran, who is on the inside track, so to speak, on all things Railyard-related, a few artistically inclined kids, some, I understand, being graduates of College of Santa Fe, cleaned out and refurbished an old box car, and turned it into an art space. And for openings, they roll over the luxury liner for drinks 'n' musical performance.

I didn't catch the names of the artists on exhibition on Friday. And for that there's no excuse, only an explanation: I didn't have my notepad with me and when I came through, their generator wasn't working and so it was pretty dark. I suppose I could've taken a camera-phone snap of the name card, but I didn't. (If you know their names, email me at davem @ sfreporter.com and I'll update this post).



There were two artists on display (Aran was a bit disappointed that her wood-cutting friend wasn't one of them), with two very different styles. On the top-top, you see an example of the book-based conceptual sculptures -- very Fluxus if you ask me, but what do I know, I'm a news writer. I really get a kick out of art that plays with words; the image top-top isn't really clear, but that's a book called "Passages in Modern Sculpture." The artist has cut holes right through the middle, and looped through long paper ribbons of test. Very clever, especially the very appropriate Post-It note amending the title to read "Passage in Post-Modern Sculpture." On the other side of the gallery space there was a huge hollowed out dictionary, where the artist had meticulous left hanging single words, like "one" and "light" in a sort of tiered poetry. That was the most impressive, in my opinion, but it was too dark on that side to photograph.

The image on the top-bottom is a close-up of one of the paintings on the other side of the train car. I have mixed feelings about that display. I do like paintings that are so heavily painted that there's a topography of texture, and in this case it did kind of fit with their tribal themes. At first I thought there were too many damn paintings on the wall, as if the artist thought this would be his/her only show this year and had to show everything. Reflecting back, though, this too was fitting, because combined with the unintentional darkness, it created the impression of walking through a dark rainforest shaded by a jungle canopy. It was a nice effect, but I can't say I was as as impressed as I was with the book art.



After about 15 minutes in the dark box car, Aran and I migrated over to the luxury car for beer. Emiliano and his crew turned up and shared the top level of the double-decker, a greenhouse like observation room with comfy, swively chairs. It was one of the best post-opening cocktail hours I've ever experienced.

I'm not sure how often unTRAINed will put on these events, but I wouldn't mind if it was a twice-monthly even. Hell, if they installed an espresso machine and a Wifi router, I can imagine hanging out with a book and laptop a few afternoons a week.

So, in conclusion: Kudos, Props, Thumbs up, High fives and knuckle knocks. This is why I'm falling in love with Santa Fe.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Tie Dye Sigh

First, a warning: This post may not be as "safe" as the subheader promises, at least for artist Julia Gil.

Today, I indulged a post-deadline Frappuccino craving. Java Chip, Grande, if you must know. While I waited, I glanced across the wall art, in particular this oil painting:



It's maybe a bit shorter than my arm-span, and perhaps a foot tall. I subscribe to the Susan Sontag school of against-interpretation (at least when it's convenient), but to me it looked like either: a) psychedelic camouflage, b) the topography of Jupiter, if it had vegetation, or, c) peacock roadkill. So I stepped closer to see the title:




Spring under water? OK, that makes sense, I guess. But what about the $1,200 price tag? It's not as if it's hanging in an actual gallery ... this is Starbucks, and begs the question: Is 468 square-inches of oil-painted tie-dye really worth 290 grande Java-Chip frappuccinos?

So, who is this painter, Julia Gil?

According to the Convergence Gallery:

A native of Spain, Julia Gil has made her home in Santa Fe, New Mexico for many years. She studied Fine Arts in Spain and England; in the United States, she has studied numerous healing arts, including polarity therapy, massage therapy, and Native American spiritual traditions. A true "Renaissance woman," she has taught workshops and courses in Art and creativity, Healing, Meditation, Polarity Yoga, and Energetic Integration. Julia's paintings have been exhibited widely in her native Spain, including shows in Las Palmas, El Corte Ingles, and Maspalomas.

Nothing there I can identify to make the painting worth as much as Ascaso Dream Versatile espresso machine and 23 pounds of Kona Blend. Does it come with a massage? Sorry to rant about overpriced art. It's a tired, tired blog topic, especially in Santa Fe, where a friggin' frito pie can run you $8.50. Still, it's gotta be said: offer me $400, and I'll stretch a hippy shirt over a frame for you and sign it Marcel Du-chump.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Rebus, It's a Rebus!

Last night, after a talk at CSF by former Army interrogator (and Johnnie) Tony Lagouranis I extended my already long Thursday to include a quick show by The Gowns at High Mayhem.

I wasn't going to go to the show, but I ran into Carlos Santistevan at The Candyman and he convinced me and my boyfriend that it would be good.

Lagouranis' lecture was interesting, though for such a controversial figure it was odd that no one opposed him. There were a few people who seemed more interested in their own politics than in paying attention to someone else's experience, but that's to be expected, I suppose. The more I thought about it the more I wondered what the fall back from the military has been on Lagouranis, who discusses the torture techniques that have been used in the past. I'd imagine that someone who was authorized to gather intelligence had to have some kind of secret clearance, and it would seem that clearance would continue after discharge, and cover the intelligence itself. Though it may and because they assumed that the techniques being used were legal there was no reason to classify them.

After the talk it was over to High Mayhem. The Gowns are an Oakland band who did what seems to be so hard for bands to do: They incorporated two lead singers, both of whom were good. So often I hear music and love one singer and wish the other would just stop. But the male and female vocalists for the band were both great and contributing pieces that the other wouldn't have been able to touch. Plus, they both kicked ass in very different ways. She with a slit in her skirt all the way up the back, which takes guts, and a stance (and hairdo) like Thurston Moore while she played the guitar. The other singer looked like a mad scientist at his switches and knobs, looking even cooler when he was done playing, hobbling along on crutches! The band was tight and had a very noise/pop sound that few do as well. While the drummer and bassist weren't compelling to watch they added sounds that gave the music depth.

During the after show cigarette, while Rio en Medio set up, I ended up in a discussion with Damon and Sabrina of Bull Seal and Mike Rowland of The Late Severa Wires about pictogram puzzles and what they're called. I must say, even though we didn't know, we have a pretty damn good vocabulary. Rhombus? Nope, that's got to do with geometry. Ouroboros. Not that either; that's the snake that eats it's own tale. Several people walked up, we asked them, they didn't know, and probably thought, "Geeks!" We never came up with it. But the conversation melded to psychedelic drug use, mental illness and, of course, sexual innuendo in Shakespearian theater. So yeah, I kinda missed the second act. But sometimes great conversation is as good as great music!

And for all you puzzlers, a fun rebus resource.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Undercover



Impressed by the illustration for this week's cover story, "Hosed!" by David Alire Garcia? Then check out the story behind it at illustrator Dale Stephanos' blog.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

it's a man's world

Sunday afternoon at the Cowgirl DJ Melanie Moore set up the final DJ/Women's World Cup battle. DJs represented different countries in the tournament and took turns on the decks. In theory the game would play inside while music filled the patio. But at 5 pm, when the broadcast was to begin, Moore frantically flipped through ESPN stations, trying to figure out what happened. ESPN2, which was supposed to broadcast the game showed cars flying around an oval track. After a few minutes the ticker at the bottom of the screen announced that the rebroadcast of the game would follow NASCAR.

Totally lame.

Sure, the game had already happened and the people who wanted to watch it already knew who won, but it sucks. With all the ESPN channels out there it's too bad that they couldn't hold up their programming and play the game somewhere.

The music was great though and went along with the great weather. There were girl and boy DJs in the showdown but it seemed fitting that Miss Ginger and McQueen were left for the final game, even if no one got to see it.

So, nice work ladies, and here's to hoping that someday, in addition to ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPN U, ESPN Deportes, ESPN 360, ESPN News and the two HD channels, a new channel called FEM-SPN will exist, featuring sports (not just cheerleading competions--something ESPN has acknowledged for years) gives Title IX some much deserved respect.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Props 'n' Apologies

To quote Smokey Robinson, I second that emotion about High Mayhem. I also want to give props (and links) to The Cleveland Trio, CK Barlow & David Felberg, and the GK Duo.

I'd also like to sincerely apologize to the girl who was working the check-in booth on Sunday night:

I'm so, so, so, so sorry my dog bit you in the face. I should've taken her elsewhere during the performance by those Colorado noise-freaks from Page 27.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Festivus for the weird in us

Between Gabe "Ruckus" Gomez, Emilano Garcia-Sarnoff, our friendly neighborhood film reviewer, staff writer Dave Maass, myself (Patricia Sauthoff) and former/sometimes writer Peter Breslin we got nearly every minute of the High Mayhem festival covered. A few of us, Peter and myself, even got in on the action for a bit (I helped Ross Hamlin adjust his installation a bit, so my contribution was tearing bits of black duct tape up, but damnit, I was helping). Peter drummed into the night in Rrake, one of the highlights of last and this year's fest, Friday night and with TRAPS, a group of seven drummers banging away at their kits in an improvisational set. I thought it might be a racket but, as I told Mike Rowland and Al Faeet (two of the drummers) later, there were moments when it was ambient and if the music hadn't been right there I wouldn't have believed it was made on drums.

In many ways the festival is as much an endurance test as it about music. You don't want to miss anything, but life beckons and there are always things that you just don't understand. The music bounces from avant garde jazz to electronics and back; casting off a coherent theme, which allows each act to stand on its own, with nothing to compare it too.

My favorite act was the Re-Wired set on Saturday. The group, a reworking of The Late Severa Wires with Dino and Molly Sturges as guests, is one that I've liked since the first time I saw them. But the addition of Dino, a musician who has been making electronic music since before it was cool, and Molly, who twists her voice around with incoherent words, like a woman possessed, added an element that I didn't expect. The band is normally loud, very loud but they turned it down, let Molly take the lead and followed her on a beautiful, and very intellectual, musical path. UV (Sean O'Neil), the band's DJ, played more guitar than I've seen in the past and added beautiful melodies to the mix.

The festival is also a nice reminder that there are young people, college kids, late 20s in Santa Fe. So often people of this, my, age group travel in cliques and we forget to branch out from our circles into the wider world.