Thursday, July 31, 2003

One thing leads to another

Tom Tomorrow today brought to my attention that Bill Maher is blogging. I've addded a perma link in the other places I visit area.

Odds and Todds

A few months ago I came across the phenomenon of Photoblogging in an article on Slate, which is archived here. As a photographer myself it is something I'd like to do, but having a full time job, this little project consumes enough of my time as it is. Some of the photobloggers are using the sort of cameras that connect to your cell phone, which these days can take and send a 640 x 480 image, which ain't too shabby, doing a sort of street photography blogging, transmitting right from the phone to a server. There are some others that are doing some higher end work. One that was featured in that Slate article that particularly impressed me was Todd Gross, whose work can be seen at his blog,

On one of those unrelated, stream of consciousness tangents that I am getting to be so famous for check out This Todd is a laid off dotcommer who turned his misfortune into humor. He has put together some primitive, but hilarious flash animations. The cartoons link will take you to the complete library, and there are a bunch, all about his life as a slacker. His latest is a Matrix parody in which he asks the question, "I'm the One... The one what?"

You can also leave Todd a dollar or buy his book. Elf up!

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Stop, I can't keep up

Not much on my mind this morning, so just an around the web roundup of my early morning reading.

I thought I was on top of the news yesterday when I linked to an early article on the Terrorist Policy Analyst Market, but before the morning was out, the Pentagon had backed off of the idea. This morning on Salon, Joe Conason has an excellent take on the whole fiasco. What are these people smoking?

Also on Salon, Charles Taylor starts his review of the Jen and Ben pic, Gigli with this.

"As is often the case with movies that have poisonous advance word of mouth, "Gigli" turns out to be merely bad -- not a train wreck, not the crime against humanity it's been rumored to be. That, and the fact that it's fashionable to hate Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez right now, will probably do nothing to discourage the predictable pig pile of critics trying to outdo each other by seeing who can be the most dismissive or scathing. After all, nobody wants to look like the class nerd. "

I wonder if the ...fashionable to hate Jen and Ben meme will spill over to Kevin Smith's much awaited "Jersey Girl". Hope not. As an ardent Kevin Smith fan, and lover of fart jokes, I like to see him succeed. And besides, I have to admit to being somewhat shizophrenic when it comes to Affleck. Not a big fan of his usual Hollywood stuff, but always enjoy him in the viewaskewniverse. It is kind of like Bizzarro Superman. (And following this tangent, here is a very nice history of the Bizzarro World.)

MoDo in the NYT has an excellent editorial this morning on Iraq. It amazes me that someone that I could not stand in her attitude towards Clinton has come out so strongly as a Bush critic. Especially considering she was a fan of his father.

Did you really expect them to find Nessie? Or is it a cover up? You decide.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Lost in America

I'm very fond of Roadside Architecture and the "Jetson" styles of the 50's and 60's. Tiki and Googie are a couple of the trends that most people of my generation, especially growing up in the west, would be familiar with. Kfog, my favorite SF Bay Area radio station had a book reviewer on their morning show today who was speaking about a new book of roadside night photography by Troy Paiva. His work is amazing. All done in camera without digital enhancement, he is using very long exposures and will "paint" with light using theatrical gels. Fantastic stuff.

And if this sort of thing is to your taste, check out this link for an excellent collection of American Roadside Retro.

War of the Roses

A couple of big battles are heating up. In, what may shape up to be a domestic battle played out on the political stage, it looks like both Arianna Huffington and her ex, Michael Huffington might throw their respective hats in the ring for California Governor in the upcoming recall election. David Talbot has this portrait of Arianna on Salon (membership or daypass required), which Mickey Kaus seems to find to be too much of a love letter. Though, I'm of the opinion that Arianna is great and along with David Brock, proof that conservatives are not a lost cause.

In another major battle heating up on the domestic front, reports that the far superior Peet's Coffee of Berkeley has landed in the heart of the competitions territory by opening their first store in Starbuck's hometown of Seattle. Cafe Nervosa look out.

On the international front this morning, the LA Time's Robert Scheer takes on the missing 28 pages and on the other coast, Paul Krugman in the New York Times looks at spin. Both worth a read.

And I'd like to know whose idea this was. Here is Josh Marshall's take. I especially liked this graph.

"In the old days, all you could accomplish with mass-casualty terrorism was physical destruction, human suffering and death on a massive scale. Now, through effective market manipulation, you can achieve those ends and reap immense profits. Maybe even enough to fund the next terrorist attack. "

Monday, July 28, 2003

L'histoire d' futurballa

Realized that in starting this blog I never explained the history of Futurballa. Back in the heady days of 1970's Berkeley a couple of us were enamoured with the writings of the Italian Futurist artists as collected in the Futurist Manifestos. Surprisingly the book is still in print and Giacomo Balla's essay, Futurballa can still be read. Based on a treatment written by a good friend and myself, he later expanded it to a script for a student film that looked at the ironies of the futurist's exhortations on what art must be.

Futurballa has been my nom d' web for quite some time and is also the name of my domain where my photography lives. (Shameless self promoting).

Here is the Balla dog. Art is motion.

Bill Mahrer chimes in

Today's LA Times has a commentary by Bill Maher on the Davis recall. In his usual satirical style, he makes some good points. Among them...

"Maybe he's a lousy governor, but he was the one elected by voters who bothered to show up at the polls. Their efforts shouldn't be undone by disgruntled shoppers signing a petition on their way out of Target."

and in reference to Ahnold...

"And the obvious solution: A Viennese weightlifter. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Finally, a candidate who can explain the Bush administration's positions on civil liberties in the original German."

Read the whole thing here.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Desert Flower

I spend quite a bit of time in the Reno area, mostly because I have family there. Back when I was a kid, my father was more than a bit of a gambler. In fact, my childhood bore an uncanny resemblance to a Damon Runyan story, but that is a posting for another day. I remember going to Reno back in the sixties. In those days it was Las Vegas' black sheep cousin. Vegas had class and Tahoe was, well Tahoe, but Reno was a downandouters stop off on his way to the skids. Today you can still find some of "old Reno", the biggest little city in the world, but there is a new Reno sprouting out of the desert, with the influx of high tech and retirees there is a demand for more than just gambling, buffets, and revival acts.

One of the best examples of this modern Reno is the new Nevada Museum of Art. Earlier this year I attended the inaugural exhibit of Mexican art, which featured works by Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. Of course the interest at the moment in Rivera and Kahlo has been spurred by the film that came out last year, but these works are more than just the flavor of the month.

I remember a number of years ago when van Gogh was all the rage. There was the major touring exhibition of his works and you couldn't swing a cat without hitting a van Gogh print. Every college dorm room had a self-portrait or a sunflower print. Sometimes this sort of mass acceptance has the tendancy to trivialize art and make a certain artist's work seem cliche. Nonetheless, great work remains great work and Frida and Diego's work is worth seeing.

At the same exhibit they had some works by lesser known Mexican artists, and as a photographer, I was struck by some of the striking images of Mexican peasant life that were hanging. I came accross this exhibit of work by the photographer Manuel Alvarez Bravo, that is currently showing at NY MOMA. I believe that some of these were hanging in Reno at the time. Take a look.

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Pearblossom Highway Revisited

Ever since I saw the David Hockney photography exhibit a couple of years ago at the LA Museum of Contemporary Art (LAMOCA), I've been fascinated by Hockney's collages. Many of the things we do digitally today, Hockney was building from individual polaroids and 35mm prints back in the '80s. Some of the works are massive collages covering entire walls. Often he breaks the barrier between artist and subject by photographing from his feet outward.

Here is an interesting article from the Getty museum detailing how Hockney created Pearblossom Highway, arguably the most famous of these works, and about his collage techniques. The article is titled, David Hockney's Pearblossom Hwy: One Landscape, Many Views. It is rather brief but is a very nice introduction to Hockney's techniques.

One interesting item that some professionals I've spoken with, that is mentioned in this piece, is the fact that when even when Hockney switched from Polaroid to 35mm, he used commercial photo labs instead of professional labs. There is today, some very real concern about the archival quality of some of his photographic masterworks.

Unfortunately, very few of Hockney's photographs are available on the web (and are best seen live anyways, because of their size), but here are a few of his paintings from WebMuseum. And here is also an interesting piece about a BBC documentary discussing Hockney's theory that the masters of classical painting used photography to aid their work.

Friday, July 25, 2003

Playing with the band

What a way to start the morning. Both Slate and Salon feature major articles on the Ann Coulter. Salon, a softball interview that proceeds to tell us nothing except that we should consider reevaluating our tastes in music (seems Ann likes the Dead). Slate does a better job of raking her over the coals.

By the way, just kidding about reconsidering The Grateful Dead, some things are more important than politics.

And talking about the Dead... Their version of "It's all over now, Baby Blue" appears on the Masked and Anonymous CD, which I picked up yesterday. I love this CD. There is some really fine Dylan work, including a surprisingly rousing rendition of "Dixie", of all things. But the high points for me, were some eccletic reworkings of classic Dylan songs. Highly recommend giving this one a spin.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Bringing it all back home

My dear friend George at A Fool in the Forest has gone on in some detail about Bob Dylan's new movie Masked and Anonymous. I just wanted to note that today's Salon (subscription required or click through the ad for a day pass) has a more positive review than has been generally the case by the, sometimes contrarian, Stephanie Zacharek. I think this paragraph sums up her assessment

" exhilarating and sometimes puzzling jumble that explores the dangers of power, the nature of Americana and the Bob Dylan myth, among many, many other things. I think the picture is less complicated than it thinks it is -- although perhaps it's complicated in ways that not even its director, Larry Charles (who has worked as a writer and producer on shows like "Seinfeld" and "Mad About You," and directed several episodes of "Curb Your Enthusiasm"), or its star (and, reportedly, its screenwriter), Bob Dylan, would be able to explain. But one of the movie's wonders is the way it recontextualizes the work and legend of Dylan -- even at a time when we may begin wondering if there are any new contexts for Dylan at all. And another is the way it reminds us that Dylan is, first if not foremost, a guy with a sense of humor."

Usually any movie that can engender such diverse reactions is worth seeing once. At the very least, just to say you have.
Corned beef on rye

Living in Northern California certainly has its plusses. Weather is mild all year long and even though San Jose is not one of the great garden spots of America (at least anymore), it is close to a lot of scenic beauty. The one big drawback to living here is the lack of really good deli food. The only real options are Max's Cafe, and Noah's Bagles, which have started offering deli sandwiches along with the usual holed varieties. Max's is decent, but they tend to be a bit lean on the brisket and it has a bit of the feeling of a deli at Disneyland. You keep wanting to look behind the curtain. Noah's is universally staffed by young kids with no idea of how to serve deli food. I think I will plotz the next time I'm asked if I want lettuce and tomato on my corned beef. Noah's always makes me think of the scence in (I believe it's) Annie Hall where Woody Allen considers converting to Catholoicism and brings home a grocery bag of goyische necessities. He pulls out a new testament, a crucifix, a Virgin Mary and finally a loaf of Wonder Bread and large jar of Miracle Whip.

One bright spot in the South Bay area that is worth sharing is Duarte's Tavern (pronounced Doo-Arts). Reservations are recommended if you want to have lunch on the weekends and it is a bit of a drive, but well worth it. Cross the Santa Cruz mountains, either over 17 or 9, or if coming from the North take 92. About halfway between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz you come to Pescadero State Park, a rocky beach full of tide pools and the well known scene of a student film (not so well known, but I and my dear friend George are the culprits responsible for this long forgotten work shot on the beach at Pescadero). Turn up the road towards the village and a mile down you come to a town consisting of literally one street. Duarte's is easy to find, right at the beginning of the road. Try the artichoke soup or the green chile soup, or if you are adventurous ask that they mix them half and half. Everything comes served with hot, crusty Pescadero sourdough bread, which can be purchased to take home at the grocery store & bakery accross the street. Also be sure to visit the bar at Duarte's, over 100 years old and full of history.

So for now, an occasional trip to Duarte's. In October I will be in Los Angeles and can indulge in my favorite West Coast Noshery.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Holocaust Films on Review

The Onion AV Club has a review today of the DVD of Vittorio de Sica's 1952 film, Umberto D., which actually reminded me of another classic de Sica film that I recently (re)watched, The Garden of the Finzi Continis. Dominique Sanda, in the roll that probably defines her in my memory, as an Italian Jew at the dawn of World War II. Her wealthy, isolated and odd family live behind the walls of their garden, keeping the encroaching horrors at bay, until their walls are broken by history. Well worth a viewing, possibly in the form of a depressing trilogy with Schindler's List and The Pianist.

On a musical (and totally unrelated) note... Highly recommend giving the Led Zeppelin, 3 CD set, How the West Was Won a listen. Near the beginning of the first CD, Jimmy Paige goes off on a classical riff (maybe someone could remind me of who it was, could be Mozart or Vivaldi, but I'm not sure) in the middle of his solo on Rock n Roll. Reminds you that Spinal Tap weren't very far off the mark. I guess it is all what you call satire. D minor is the saddest of keys.
Bravo Futurismo

This is the inaugural post for futurballa.

My interests extend to politics, photography, film, art, graphics, computers and the list goes on. Don't plan on getting your politics or culture fix here, but instead a pot pourri of any and all of the above.

My personal website where my own work can be viewed is at .

So on to the business of blogging... I have to give credit where credit is due. I've certainly been inspired to get into the blogging world by the work of my dear friend George, who has blazed a path into the blogosphere with his blog at A Fool in the Forest . Though leaning more to the right than myself, George always has a good take on the political scene and his tastes in art and culture are wide ranging and always of interest.

Recently I netflixed , a new verb I'm trying to bring into common usage, Carol Reed's, The Third Man with Joe Cotton and Orson Welles in a true star turn as Harry Lime. The DVD contains a worth watching introduction by Peter Bogdanivich which contains the story of how wells told him the definition of a "star turn". Worth viewing just for Bogdanivich's Welles impersonation. According to Bogdanivich, Welles said that he did not try to influence Reed's direction of the film, but if he didn't than Reed was certainly a fan of Kane and had studied Welles. The film is chock full of some of the most Wellesian camera angles and it defines film noir. All that and a screenplay by Graham Greene.