Jun '05 - May '06
ED NOTE: it was brought to my attention that no title screws up the linkage in some browsers. Apologies when mandated.
Also, the quality of my cell phone photos is beginning to bother even me. I dust off the Lomo and use the video for a still. Enjoy. Also, and this will be the one time I ask, cue up the KCRW show in the following link:
Kevin sent me a recall Email yesterday Thursday. Both the Moss/Prix debate lecture tape from the 2002 SCIArc lecture series, “Make it New” and the first Moss monograph were requested for recall in anticipation of a project. “What's up?” I ask.
“I'll tell you when I get the books.” Kevin knows to delay the punch line. The bastard.
This past Wednesday eve. I attend a screening of “The Wedding Crashers” followed by a Q&A with writers Steve Faber and Bob Fisher at the Harmony Gold screening room on Sunset Blvd. Writer Steve Faber, khakis, denim blue shirt, wearing his former financial successes on his sleeve, semi verbatim says: “I was a lawyer for sixteen years. So, Instead of putting a bullet through my head, I decided I had better change what I do for a living. So I remembered how much I loved sitcoms.”
I suppose I was affected. It's hard to really define how, or why. I was depressed. I have strong feelings about the SCIArc trial. It comes from different places. It could be the property disputes, probate courts, arbitration lawyers, deceitful prosecutors, the my money fucking with former husbands, reentering deadbeat fathers, red hot cali property market, and the mass family death that have filled the window of my life since I last departed SCIArc. Rosen reminds me of brother Damon, and that I may have better legal representation than SCIArc. This is disconcerting. If not better, it's certainly cheaper. All that remains on good god's earth of my blood is only me and my five older brothers. Calvin, Malbour, Billy, Damon, Brandon, and sometimes Brian. My pro bono army. My five nimble limbs. My five points chakra.
I return to Los Angeles 97ish. Apart from a Starbucks job, life is idle. Surreal without school.
Momma and Poppa double demanded I come by for July 4 cueing. Double informed momma I had opted to work rather than tour the city with him visiting a variety of peeps' parties. Barbecues are difficult. Too family nostalgic. Momma and Poppa double can scarcely cue like a family of Creoles.
Market driven model of academia. Democratic driven model of academia. Dollars are thin in a democracy. Google nearly triples since its IPO. So when a democracy decides to dance in court, the question I wanted answered was, “Is my money being fucked with?”
The answer takes longer than a few weeks. More than a few conversations. If ever I have to ask the former question, usually my instincts point to the affirmative. This got me down. Really down. Really, really down. Rosen reminds me: “money begets money. This is why the poor stay poor.”
Poppa Double's my favorite. He has nothing and everything to do with Hollywood. He does nothing and everything in the film industry. He is, an the root, a lawyer turned mathematician with a tobacco pipe, whose Industry standard time processor keeps orchestras in time with alinear rhythm patterns. Involved with film composing. Dope. Above that, he's a boisterous fogie with a wonderful candor and that disheveled Spielberg Coppola look and cadence. Thus, people, Hollywood folks, warm up to him as everybody does. He's one of those fogies. Since the passing of my family these past years, the Doubles have adopted me as their own. I suppose now it's declared, whereas my entire life the Doubles did everything short of verbally announcing it.
My car is a Taurus HDH. The marine who sold me the car when I got to San Diego January 2004 explained the HDH stands for Horse-Drawn Horse, hence the price. He left the plastic red M&M figurine on the dash. “You want this?” I asked. “No, that's the guardian of the HDH, homie.” Guy's got no neck but a confident, soft spoken voice. “You sure?” I asked again. “Trust me, homie.” With that and a soulshakehug, his girlfriend drove him back to the barracks. The car he unloaded fast because in three days he would be deploying to Iraq again. The candy smirks. This M&M plastic figurine knows his marine is safer than I am. Ranked corporal, artillery maintenance, the marine could probably repair an American made Howitzer with his eyes closed, but had given up on this computerized, Detroit-made, piece of crap.
I'm convinced I fill my life with irony deliberately. I take a Beaux Arts watercoloring class through UCLA extension. Time to buy watercolors. I trek to the ULCA campus store. “It's closed. It's up at the Towel.” Stories of proverbial art supplies, campus store inconvenience, and adaptive reuse. Life is cyclical. Crescendo to obliteration for future construction.
The temporarily relocated campus store to the Towel structure is now akin to a Best Buy: It works by virtue of simply being an enclosed space, and the hanging decorum is, hanging. Adaptive reuse is different signage. A temporary enclosure for book storage becomes a permanent point of orientation, lives out its last useful days as a waystation for sustenance profit. Fast forward, what remains is a promenade of grass to some kickass stairs. A frame of completed coordinated vernacular. Sans the Hodgettes papayas. An open axis to Sunset Blvd.
The watercolor class is good therapy. After standing for eight hours in the bowels of the food service industry, go watercolor. Self help book budget better spent on brushes. The professor punctuated random lessons with stories of Richard Meier collaging paper scraps in airplane first class. Flower painting and strangely humanizing anecdotes about professionals in my studies. I wish I remembered homegirl's name. She told stories well. Big twists turns and and thens. I never had to say much, just have coffee and a smoke ready.
The Guardian ain't worth a damn. When something goes wrong with the car, however, the M&M becomes the car personified, a great target of verbal catharsis, and in that sense he has become useful. I figure the marine used it in a similar capacity. Repair costs have officially exceeded the car's bluebook value and Reverse is not engaging properly. Rosen reminds me repair costs from here on out become money wasted. This weekend may involve a more intense car hunt. No luck at sporadic police auctions. No '61 Lincoln to speak of with $60 barrels.
Conversating with a granite demolitions and concrete contractor in cold windy Joshua Tree January 2005. The porch of a ranch style inn. He and I discuss the cars he drove as a teenager in the 60's. I mention the '61 Lincoln and the currently $50 barrels. His response: You only live a short life once. Why do anything that doesn't make you absolutely happy? You have control over your own suffering.” The level of this man's storytelling from memory is only surpassed by his tradecraft. I talk about some book. The innkeeper, Sandy, is his girlfriend. Later in the evening, Sandy shows me photos of the contractor's concrete work. Hot shit, good corners. Sandy confides with me: Recently I taught my love to read.
“We lost the art of storytelling.” As much as legendary SCIArc professor Dr. Aino Paasoneen drove me absolutely two moons around mars fucking batshit nuts (I recall prefacing explanations of upcoming readings. These prefaces stretch on for so long, cover so many devices, they generally include the literature's surprise ending and a breakdown of the beats. Akin to watching a movie premiere with the director commentary playing), the personal breakthrough to her pedagogy occurred when Dr. Paasoneen randomly dropped this declaration into a lecture on an unrelated topic. “We lost the art of storytelling.”
Down. Really down. No one's happy if their money's being tossed to poor counsel. I'm giddy with goosebumps. This week has been replete with ebbs and flows, myriad magical moments in contrast with the horse drawn horse.
The Doubles live on the hillside between Sherman Oaks and Bel Air. I make a three point turn to pull over towards the sidewalk. Reverse doesn't engage. The HDH is stuck perpendicular to the curb around a blind corner. I'm fucked. I opt to honk like a Wildman, yell at the M&M and call double and them. Meanwhile, I try neutralling out of position, only to find myself careening straight towards a parked 4runner. I hit the brakes, throw in the ebrake, Double gets the phone.
Wedding Crashers is drag out funny for exactly what it is: a drawn out montage of Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson as wit kings, timing kings, their comic best. More twisted one liners than dirty dishes in my sink, a midlevel Vince Vaughn tidbit- cue up the Casino scene in Swingers for tone-: “Lets play a little game called, Just The Tip, howabout that?” Pounds out to Pearl Girl for the plus one.
I relay my story of the no-reverse HDH to the Doubles as I arrive. I look for the bacon fat and cedar chips in the Doubles' fridge. Nope. Kosher cue for sure. Kind of a misnomer. Double goes for a swim. Following my HDH debacle, I have a smoke and a scotch. “You know The Decemberists?” He asks. Yup. Heard ”˜em on KCRW. No longer a critic, I inform him I recall not sticking my fingers in my ears, so that's enough to give The Decemeberists my blessing. “That guy Buck sitting on the bench is a composer assisting dad. His girlfriend's the lead singer of The Decemberists, so that's her sitting next to him.” Cool, I suppose. Should I give her the thumbs up or something?
Hillside three point turn. Meanwhile the neighbor comes outside, and stands there looking at me in the middle of the street. I look back at him. He is expressionless. Bewildered. Seeing me despondednt, seconds from being sideswiped from the apex of a blind corner may be the highlight of his holiday. This is better than actually asking If I need help. “Double! Come here!” Double is standing on his parents' steps next door, staring at me bewildered. We are still on the phone. “Come here dumbass!” I yell. After finishing his pocket edition of War and Peace, Double decides to stroll over. The neighbor greets him with a friendly hello. “Double! I'm fucked!” I continue. “What's up?” He asks. HDH, no reverse, gonna hit this 4runner, can you ask your guest to move it.
Hey, lead singer of The Decemberists, cool. Petra, Buck and I shoot the breeze about architecture ultimately. Cool but odd. No one likes to talk about their own crap. Everyone in LA knows about SCIArc, but not really what. In some senses, like REDCAT, FOLAR, and SPARC, SCIArc is one of those acronymns heard on KCRW, but without much context. Like every SCIArc student and alumn, offering context or explanation is long, arduous and tiresome, and usually involves a long, tiresome explanation of the namesake.
“Lemmie see...” Double calls the mommas and the poppas. The neighbor's fragile wife comes outside to see if I've been sideswiped yet. “Mars, they don't know whose 4runner this is. Nieghbor, do you know whose this is?”
Poppa Double rescues me and puts Petra on the spot. “Mars, you heard the Petra's stuff on KCRW?” Yup. A scotch makes me regress to former awful habits. I inform Petra I didn't put my fingers in my ears so kudos. “Petra did this a capella project on a 4-track and radio shack mic. This a capella version of Sell Out, you heard it? Damned 4track and cheap mic!” Poppa double has a mathematician's ear: tubular amps and gold tipped RCA connections. I say I've heard some a capella group that I thought was amazing, but Petra says these are just her. So no, no clue ala me. Petra and Buck don't wanna talk about themselves either, so the conversation swings to Gehry, always. Poppa Double throws in Petra's CD. I fucking freeze in my frozen Adidas Gazelles. I have to look away.
The Nieghbor's head continues to sprinkler-neck between the 4runner and my wide-open eyes. “It's mine,” the neighbor replies. Inside, poppa double reminds me I put too much faith in humans. Perhaps. The converse is putting all my faith in human fallibility, which I figured had been my recent MO.
I'm frozen next to the lukewarm pool. Momma double asks me what's wrong. Poppa double stands under the speaker with a pipe. Double's chillin in the pool. What's wrong is that goosebumps jump on my arms, I almost start to cry. Yes I know these tracks. Yes I've these before, and yes, these are the ones I thought were a group of women. Nope, just Petra Haden. I'm a prick. I'm such a prick. Well, then there's my dad reminding me never to introduce myself with praise and adoration. Man I'm a real, real prick. For good reason, the rest of the barbecue is rather surreal. I've included my one and only weblink just to make sense of both my emotional reaction to Petra Haden's project with Mike Watt, and audio accompaniment to my scotched prickedness.
The photo of the couple at the top of the post is Petra and Buck. As Buck and Petra depart, I say a cordial goodbye and take a snap. I tell Petra it's rare I meet an artist who truly evokes an emotional reaction from me, and thus it was a true pleasure. Petra and Buck toss me shakes and ear to ear smiles, and I cap this off with my initial reaction to Petra, which I held because it may have seemed flirtatious: adorable adorable shoes.
Fucked up magical incidents like this have been happening all week. I've been so despondent lately over a myriad problems, that one after another random encounters and brushes with strangers and friends whose recent work has been mind opening and inspirational, has been a warm change of pace. I'm certain a series of long ilogs will follow, my SCIArc work updates, SCIArc, FIDM, and a Series of Unfortunate Events. Groovaloo.
I show up to the Kappe library. Kevin smirks. The first Moss monograph is apparently hard to come by. So hard in fact that Eric himself needed it recalled. The inside cover is inscribed, " 5/14/92, Dear Kent: Great knowing you, great listening to you, great learning from you. Eric"