Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Tried to get in all the bits

Friday, September 15, 2006

September Girls

Some song written by Alex Chilton, covered by the bangles, though none of the lyrics would illucidate anything here. ("Even though I keep away/ they will love all our days") Just that it's the middle of september already, so soon. Nothing much done except some fine fine television viewing. Yesterday I went with Ji Sung to the Burbank IKEA to go buy Anthony some BILLY book shelves. It seems like all IKEAS I know of (Emeryville, Carson, Burbank) face in a westwardly direction. Never ate the meatballs before, was quite a revelation--I thought it would taste like particle board, but they were actually tasty and cheap to boot. Must go back and try their 2 buck breakfast. Later had dinner with Anthony and Ji Sung at an Italian place in Los Feliz. They informed me that David Lynch dines every friday evening across the street at Figaro's where they also once saw the blonde girl from Grey's Anatomy. Nothing much else this Friday afternoon spent at the public library, and now sending this missive from a cafe by Bixby park a block from the ocean. Oh yeah, went to the Long Beach art museum where they had these old portraits, silhouettes and duegerrotypes of african americans: abolitionist tracts, moneyed freed slaves commisioning portraits, it was very edifying--at one point one of the gallery rooms was filled with moms and their screaming and stomping children wsith downey blonde hair, where's a changeling when you need one.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Bill Viola

Last week I drove to Belmont Shore here in Long Beach to buy a bag of Peet's coffee. Waiting for my complimentary cappuccino, I overheard the middle-aged white guy with the salt-and-pepper beard chat with the waifish blonde girl working behind the espresso machine. You know Bill Viola, he asked her. He came to my school one time, she replied. You know he lives here in Belmont. Really, she said without a hint of surprise or incredulity (If it was Starbuck's, there surely would have been more feeling to her response). Yeah, and he keeps a studio in the neighborhood, too. Margo—non-fat latte! He turned around just then and saw me jerk my head in response to his information: Zoinks, that's news to me. I thought maybe he would notice my new "Brown Jesus" t-shirt that Ji Sung got me from the Chicano art exhibit at the De Young. I wanted to call Michella and verify this info on Bill Viola, since he had just spoken at that multi-media art conference in San Jose that she worked at, but then I remembered she might be in Belgium. Belmont Shores if you've never been is one of the last neighborhoods of Long Beach before you hit the O.C.—it's the gates of Mordor (The dark lord lives in Disneyland). It's got a mile long commercial strip—Stage IV gentrification—with a requisite Banana and adjacent Gap and a Body Shop. It's got four or so cafes, a handful of beachcomber clothing shops, an Aardvark's, and an equilibrated ratio between it's independent ethnic and chain restaurants, hence it's stage IV classification. The denizens and patrons are middle-class white, even the vagrants are white, old circuit-surfers, grizzled and sun-damaged from the endless summer. The sidewalks here are barely big enough to accommodate the persistent fleet of chic ergonomic and aerodynamic baby strollers. Bill Viola, the golden boy of conceptual, video art lives here? How long ago was this neighborhood at Stage-I gentrification, late 70's, early 80's, a shuddering row of Bukowski bars, seedy galleries, and artist's shacks made from L.A. River flotsam, where have all the hipsters gone, or when they finally shed their youth, who did they become? Does Bill Viola shop in his own neighborhood? Does he buy his bland, solid-colored (so as not to produce moiré-patterns on video) button down shirts and chinos at the Gap? Does he do the 20-minute circuit training at the Executive Fitness club? In his evening strolls does he sometimes stray from the shore and head down to second st? Does he look down the straight-as-an-arrow strip past the quick succession of half-sized blocks, witnessing the untimed traffic lights, shifting like retinal cone cells, tracking a residual line to some elusive vanishing point. Does he conceptualize the proceedings as some kind of memento mori: retail and it's audacious claims to immortality. Later at the Jack-in-the-box across the way where I ate a breakfast croissandwich with my cappucino, I thought, why should I be so surprised that Bill Viola lives here. Wasn't there always some ineffable middleclass whiteness to his work, all those home videos of his daughter's birth and birthday parties, all those tableaus screaming midlife crises. All those humorless elegies, those golden days fading to static, the digital decay and dying, waxing poetic like an aging baby boomer would. Welcome to Belmont Shores, stomping grounds for O.C. housewives, calstate Long Beach co-eds and international art stars.