Thursday, February 11, 2010

What's my motivation?

Before there was Artboy there was Fashionboy.

Okay. Not really.

But for much of the time that I was in high school and then in undergrad and then for a few brief shining months after finishing art school I was convinced that the only thing I wanted to do was design clothing.

I read Vogue and all the rag rags and had WWD delivered to my house. I designed some costumes and even got to show some of my designs once.

I was mistaken for a designer at a creative black tie event where I showed up wearing a kilt and motorcycle boots with my tux jacket (1).

But what I learned was that I wasn't so much a designer as I was a fan of designers. I realized that I didn't have that spark that said, "This is what's next."

One of the designers who I always thought had that spark - the designer that made me daydream about packing my bags and taking off to London to study at Central St. Martin's - was Alexander McQueen. His designs were these fantastic creations that implied vast, arcane histories and mythologies.

His work was some of what helped me piece together that what fascinated me about art making and fashion design was doing the research, learning history and creating narratives.

Alexander McQueen was found dead today. While details have been scarce it appears to have been a suicide. He was just 40 years old.

Which is an unspeakable tragedy and a grim loss of talent.

I've always wondered what that place might look like. The point where you look around and realize that the only way to escape is death. Perhaps I've been around too many people who have fought tooth and nail against that great inevitable.

And perhaps it's just one of those doors best left closed.

Robin Givhan, the Washington Post's Pulitzer Prize-winning critic, offers a lovely piece on the designer's career.

1. You had to be there (2).
2. Even if you were there you had to be there.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Is this a joystick that I see before me?

The last video game that I was any good at was Jungle Hunt.

Or Jungle King.

There was a jungle.

And you swung on ropes and collected gold and silver and stuff.

The last video game I tried to play was Tomb Raider. I lasted about 30-seconds before my friend the Accountant took the controller away.

Now it seems that the fairy gamemothers at Electronic Arts have created a video game based on Dante's Inferno.

But, don't start rejoicing yet.

According Gus Mastrapa,'s game reviewer (1),:

"Gloomy new hack-and-slash action game Dante's Inferno meticulously reinterprets its influential source material: With perfect reverence, it replicates every nuance, every glorious note, from Sony's God of War.
Oh, and there's also some plot stuff in there based on some poem by a dead Italian guy."

The bad review didn't stop fellow Game/Lifer Chris Kohler from coming up with a list of other literary classics ripe for a video makeover.

Dude, I would totally wreck you on Heart of Darkness.

1. Who knew?

Bam! Pow! Biff! Snow!

Someone on our neighborhood listserv, known from here on out as the Wall of Sound, made the mistake of criticizing how the city is handling snow removal.

She was informed that this was a storm of "UNPRECEDENTED" size and she should give it a rest.

Sure. That's true. It's a lot of snow.

But here's the thing.

It's a lot of snow in a city that keeps telling us we are entirely prepared for a complete evacuation in the event of an emergency.

So here's hoping that the terrorists don't have access to any back issues of Batman...because apparently no one planned for one of Mr. Freeze's nefarious schemes.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Once more, with feeling.

Okay. This is the last post for the night.


Unless something else gets me going.

But I stumbled on this article over at Arts Journal and it falls into that category of things I find particularly inspirational. I love those moments when we get to hear how a creative idea came into being. How something wonderful came into being.

How I now have a reason to highlight this absolutely brilliant book cover.

The story, which I kind of leapfrogged over back there, is about the death of Timothy McSweeney who was, according to the article, the inspiration for the name of Dave Egger's literary journal McSweeney's Quarterly Concern.

Think what you will about Egger's book A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (1) but McSweeney's is it's own work of staggering genius. It's the kind of literary journal that makes you realize what a really great literary journal can be.


Ironic that I'm going to conclude my praises of a fantastic literary journal with one of those circular sentences critics write that actually mean very little at all.


1. And I will either agree with your opinion that it is a wonderful and clever book or wish you all the best with your truck driver training school placement exam (2).
2. I know. First five year-old girl snow shovelers and now people in the long-haul transportation industry. I don't know what my problem is tonight. I have a great respect for people who drive big trucks. And also for people who travel with carnivals (3).
3. No. I don't know why.

Slow down, you move too fast.

Just in case there's any misunderstanding here I want to clear something up.

I love the snow.

I love winter.

I don't love the frustration that is dealing with issues caused by winter weather in this particular city, but I love watching the snow fall and the way the park looks when it's covered over, and watching the kids play and make snowmen and igloos and snow angels.

And this time around there's been an unexpected benefit.

I've been avoiding the grocery store like the plague. The very thought of it has filled me with dread.

Instead, I've been taking advantage of the small markets and butchers and poultry guys near and in D.C.'s Eastern Market. I got a big smile from the man who runs the butcher counter who always seems to remember me no matter how long it's been. The poultry folks had eggs and big, gorgeous bone-in chicken breasts (1). I chatted with the guy at the liquor store when I bought my wine and laughed with the two women there who said they had "gin and brandy, so we're all ready for the next storm." (2)

It's so easy when Leopold and I get running around for stocking the shelves to become this mindless task of getting it bought, on the shelf and into the freezer. But my little grocery excursion today was actually kind of fun and felt so much more productive. It really did feel good to patronize local people...knowing that my money was giving back to the community and not simply adding to the bottom line of a faceless corporation.

A corporation that probably wouldn't remember that I had been looking for bacon the other day.

D.C.'s new plastic bag text has already caused me to be mindful of how I bring things home from the store. I'm hoping the last few days are going to help remind me to think a little more about where it is I'm shopping.

1. Which not only means great flavor for the chicken but bones for stock...which means not paying money for boxed broth.
2. Which seems to be starting as I type this.

Money changes everything.

Yes. This is another snow post.

Sorry for that.

But here's the thing.

Since Leopold and I have both been unexpectedly off from work we've been taking Finkelstein out for one, long, walk with no destination whatsoever. We've gotten to see the snow turn colors as the sun goes down. Finkelstein gets to do some mid- to high-level frolicking (1) and we've gotten to engage in a pseudo scientific sociological analysis of shoveling habits in our fair city.

And here's what our study has revealed.

The care and consideration shown when shoveling the sidewalk area in front of one's house seems to sit in direct opposition to the value of the house itself.

In other words, people sitting in big expensive houses shovel like five year-old girls (2).

Which leads me to my larger point.

If you can afford a $1M+ home you can afford a snow shovel.

If you can afford a $1M+ home but lack the physical ability to shovel you can afford to hire someone to shovel for you.

Trust me. You can.

I can be there in 20 minutes.

1. She's very advanced.
2. Written with apologies to any outstanding five year-old female snow shovelers out there. I am merely trying to offer an illustration.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Copping a latitude.

Washington, D.C. is not the South.

This is a horrible thing to break to the city at large but, I'm sorry, this is not the South. You can fry as many green tomatoes as you want, drink bourbon by the barrel and pass around as many trays of ham biscuits as you want, but it's not the South.

Until, that is, it snows. Then, yes, we are way down south in Dixie.

As I have already used one post to rail against the lack of snow etiquette in this, the lap dance of democracy, there seems no reason not to add another.

Or a few.

Here in the "Snow South" they believe in leaving a few inches of snow on the ground "for traction."

There is the apparent belief that snowplows are magic so, if you shovel all the snow on and around your car into the street, the plow will make it disappear. Not, as logic and reason would dictate, plow it all back up against your car.

Here in the "Snow South" there's no need to shovel off your sidewalk so that people can walk past...that's what streets are for.

After all, you're safer walking in the street. The plows have thoughtfully left that inch or two of snow for traction.