Saturday, December 19, 2009

Zurbaran for mid-afternoons....

Why didn't I know about this painter earlier? A friend, a dear, dear friend, is studying in London back and brought me a postcard with one of his images on it. Francisco de Zurbaran proves yet again that the Spanish knew what they were doing during this time period in Western art.

Maybe it's too cliche that someone brought up as Roman Catholic as I loves this kind of intense iconography. In some ways though, you might think I would shy away from it, actually, due to strange memories or trauma from going to mass...

Perhaps it's the fact that most of the saints he painted are ones I can get behind. Francis, who spoke with birds and fish and generally ran around the countryside, seemed like one cool dude. Saint Serapion, the fellow with his arms in chains, is a wee more confusing in terms of likability points. On the one hand, he looks really intense and awesome in this painting. On the other one, it seems like he was likely wrapped up in the Crusades, a very, very hard thing to want to go back in time and give the man a hi-5 for.....

At any and all rates, the beauty of Zurbaran's compositions and emotional energy make his subjects highly appealing to at least look at due to his skilled brush. I gotta thank him for that. Pretty gorgeous stuff.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New species

Seen in an apartment window, yesterday. Next to a snowman and a bear. What is this animal??????

Dog Palace!

This one is dedicated to Alphie Primeau.

Someone needs to tell them

I went on an extremely long and odd walk today, and was greeted (in part) by not-as-long but definitely-odd reminders of the strange cultural space that is my city. One such reminder came in the form of a real estate sign that brought rushing back to my mind an old pet peeve about promotion and advertising.

Admittedly, I AM one of those humans who is generally pretty offended by advertising, even the very creative stuff that spills out from that industry on a regular basis. At best, it has always seemed a tragic waste that minds able to spin such highly unusual angles on the way at which the world can be seen are doing so to sell a product. At worst, advertising is object porn that has absolutely nothing interesting about it at all.

Promotion of oneself can fall into the pits of despair advertising is born in, and stay there, or it can be an effective tool if done with the integrity and the honesty that seem to be almost embarrassing to talk about currently. However, just remember that if you're promoting yourself, for better or for worse, please please please don't use a crazy picture to do so.

This image came from a real estate agent's sign, which I chose to crop in order to keep the person's anonymity secure, even though I can assure you that's the last thing the sign was initially intended for. Why the crazy face? It's kind of amazing, as it reminds me of those insane cheerleader smiles that we're taught entices folks (this time around potential homeowners) into our clutches.

It reminds me of another crazy advertising trend, that of labelling products with key words that don't actually make any sense in relation to what they're talking about. Fresh. Hip. Electric. If you see them on the metro, you won't bat an eye, but if you THINK about them, they actually sound completely insane.

Which, I gotta admit, is what our friend here looks like. Taken out of the context of her real estate sign, would you look at her and think, "this person can competently sell me a house?"

Time to stop with the crazy smile, peeps. Time to get a few friends to be brutally honest about your photos. Time to maybe admit that the botox is doing less for your overall image than you thought.

Or not. I mean, it is highly entertaining to see signs like this everywhere. What would I do if suddenly everyone on real estate billboards started looking genuine and relaxed? That might be far more de-stabilizing than not. So forget it, actually. Carry on.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The ghost in the bottle.

My friend Mike who's in an amazing band, (or who IS an amazing band, Snailhouse) will be playing this week coming up (Wednesday the 16th of December) at the Casa del Popolo with another amazing singer, (gorgeous, other-worldy voice) Old Believer. They asked me to give them some image or another for their poster, and here's the results (after Mike tinkered with the design)....

It feels good, the image, the page, the music. Space, room to breathe, sun-on-face. All these things that winter can bring.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

another great thing about vinyl...

Not to go on and on and on about the merits of this medium (gosh, I've never done, nor will do such a thing! shocking!) but when playing vinyl you get to SEE how long a song is.

Listening to some Gould-bach right now and each side is a tiny cluster of songs, rather like the counterpunctal chaos of Bach's music itself. If this was cd or mp3 or youandme, I wouldn't be remotely aware of the geographies of time in this way. How certain records smatter, cacophony of birds-hovering-above and others slink into docks, freight ships hauling a large and steady load.

Oh sensual record how you pull me in with a myriad of traits equal parts unique and baffling.

And remember...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The haunting, through odours

There is a woman who used to live in my apartment who is haunting it through smells. I never really thought this possible before, (but then again, I also have never heard of cargo cults until tonight) but for the last few weeks, I have been absorbed by scents inexplicable save their potential connections to the people who lived here before.

In some ways, this form of haunting makes the most sense, as it is through smell that the memory of people resides most strongly. Once as a young-ish version of myself I opened my mother's closet after a long absence from the family nook and was hit with the nostalgic aroma of all things her. To this day whenever I open strawberry shampoo bottles it makes me think of jazz camp, as I brought that specific product with me there 2 summers in a row on purpose, to reinforce the memory of the place and the people that surrounded it.

If the olfactory system is one of the strongest ways in which the brain associates with the past, it is only logical that some haunts would be of the scented kind. Why pickles, I am not sure. And this is not something only I have noticed. Some have commented on it without me so much as whispering suggestions, whereas others have been prompted to mention perhaps there's a smoky smell to the place to boot.

I like pickles. Of the dill sort, anyhow, which is what permeates these walls currently. So perhaps this is a reassuring situation, one to obtain a certain amount of solace in. It reaffirms the fact that I do have an apartment, as I recognize the tactile-ness of its scent immediately, the dill proclaiming a sort of homecoming amidst a certain amount of turbulence-as-of-late.

To see even uncomfortable scenarios as ones with the potential to bring comfort. As long as this doesn't become the excuse to stay somewhere for too long, or sit in one position until you get a numb ass. Circulation is crucial in all situations, and good circulation at that.

Still, I am choosing for now to see this as a positive rather than negative. Here she was, and then gone, somehow, but the traces left behind are ones I can get behind in a way. Her cigarette unfurling off a sharp tongue full of witty small talk, while the pickles she offered on chipped plates left a tang in the air as pointed.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009