Monday, June 13, 2011

Art Class

  • I'm reading at the launch for the Spring/Summer issue of Redivider this Wednesday, June 15, 7 pm at Sweetwater Tavern (in the alley by Emerson, across from the Common). Also reading is Steve Himmer, author of The Bee-Loud Glade. Come say hi! Buy my book and/or me a drink!
  • Some people rabidly oppose the idea of a guilty pleasure, arguing that no one should feel guilty about what they like. I am not one of those people. Most TV I watch falls under the "guilty pleasure" rubric; if I'm going to bother, I generally want my TV to be mindless and trashy (see Gossip Girl, America's Next Top Model). House is an exception; I actually think House is well-written and -acted for the most part. I also occasionally like to watch stupid romantic comedies, but the pleasure I get from them is almost voyeuristic: I basically just want to look at pretty people in good clothes go on dates. There has to be a distinction between this primitive kind of pleasure and what I would get from something that actually makes me think, and that's what the term "guilty pleasure" is for.
  • I was thinking about this because last week in the gym I watched part of a rom-com called Because I Said So (tragically, my gym no longer appears to subscribe to the Food Network), which was so atrocious it refused to be enjoyed on even this base level. The scene where Diane Keaton follows her daughter on the freeway, yelling at and kicking her GPS while her dog watches mournfully from the backseat, is a travesty. How could Hollywood do that to Diane Keaton? How could she let Hollywood do that to her? Wake me up when someone makes a real movie.
  • Oh, also: I saw that Herzog film about cave paintings. I won't even get into the unnecessary Herzogisms. The truly crazy thing is, why should it be that the art the happens to survive 30,000+ years was by a guy who was like, really good at drawing? It's frankly amazing. You see this ancient cave art, and you're not like, Wow, this connects us to primitive man, you're like, DAMN that is a good horse!


  1. If I'm ever framed for some crime and end up in jail, I'm using my one phone call to beg you to give Battlestar Galactica a chance. (Then I won't mention it again, I promise;)

  2. That's a lot of pressure. The problem with BG is not that it's TV, it's that it's on the list of no-no genres:

    Have you heard "You Are the Light" by Jens Lekman?

  3. BSG totally transcends the genre. You really can't judge it until you watch it--a mistake I myself made!

    I have that song on my iPod, but I don't pay much attention to lyrics, except that I've noticed that "You are the light by which I travel into this and that" is a line from a David Berman poem...why do you mention it?

  4. Woman: That new Werner Herzog film about cave paintings is playing at the cinema tonight.

    Man: Well, Lascaux!

    (I know the movie is about a different French cave but I couldn't think of a good pun for it.)

  5. Yeah, it's based on a David Berman poem. It also has the line "I used my one phone call to dedicate a song to you on the radio"

    Travis: You seen one cave, you seen 'em all.

  6. America's Next Top Model is high on my list, maybe at the top of my list, of guilty pleasures. When I want serious mind candy, well, there you go.

    Couple of others of mine are Dr. Phil, once in a while, and those cheesy small claims court TV shows (once in a very great while).

    I sort of liked Celebrity Apprentice in a similar way when it was first on, but I got tired of it pretty soon. You've seen one celebrity meltdown, you've seen them all...


    A few years back poet Clayton Eshleman wrote an essay I found fascinating, basically an account of visiting and viewing the cave paintings in a number of the caves in France and Spain. Can't for the life of me remember the title of the essay -- as I recall, it's in his essay collection Archaic Design (published by Black Widow Press). I originally found it in the issue of American Poetry Review where it was published a few years ago.

    Another fairly good recent account of the cave paintings is The Cave Painters: Probing the Mysteries of the World's First Artists by Gregory Curtis, published 2006 by one of the large New York publishers.

    I can't remember now which one it was in (Eshleman's essay or Curtis's book), but in one of them, one of the details that absolutely grabbed me is that in some of the caves, there still exist -- hardened into the mud for millenia -- the footprints of the ancient visitors to the caves, men, women, children. At least possible that some could be the footprints of the actual painters.

    Think of it, to be that close to someone who walked the earth so long ago.

  7. Wow I didn't realize Jens used that line from Berman. Did Jens reveal that in one of his pre song stories, at a concert? I know Jens samples everyone and has had to listened to the Silver Jews, but to have read Actual Air, awesome. Could "the ocean (sea) made me feel stupid" from his song "The Opposite of Hallelujah" be from Governors of Sominex as well?

  8. "the ocean (sea) made me feel stupid"--yeah, I believe that is from somewhere in Actual Air.

    Recently I ripped off "athsma inhaler" from Berman. But that's no more his than mine, is it? (Dylan: "What did I steal? The word 'the'?") Unless no one had ever put an athsma inhaler in a poem before Berman did...

    You know the Silver Jews song "I'm Gonna Love the Hell Out of You"? On youtube there's a video for it that purports to be a trailer for a movie of the same title. Now that looks like a real movie, the kind of quirky indie rom com I like. But I don't think there is a movie. You have extrapolate the rest.

  9. Lyle, John has an Eshelman book that is all about the cave paintings in France. It's called Juniper Fuse. And yes, the caves still have footprints! There are also all kinds of skulls and bones in the cave from the Herzog film, but no human bones, suggesting they didn't live there but just went there, well, for art class.

    A.C., I can't remember where I learned that, but I think I googled it because I wasn't sure who was borrowing from whom -- I actually read the Berman poem after hearing the Lekman song.

  10. Elisa, I've seen Eshleman's book Juniper Fuse though haven't read it. In the essay of Eshleman's that I was talking about in my previous comment, he talks a little about Juniper Fuse -- the essay is kind of, partly, some back-story of Juniper Fuse.