Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Dance Party: July

Detail from Ultra Nate's "Free" EP (1997)

Comin' in just under the wire. ;-)

Well, we've got a goofy mix of music this time around, but lots to enjoy, admire, and appreciate for beauty, playfulness, or originality. The nine songs in tonight's post are all certainly evocative of the era in which they came to prominence. Yeah, there's a bit o' cheesiness that can't be denied, but, over the years, popular trends go from cool to kooky, poised to playful. And a whole lot of loneliness. . .

From tear-jerkers to trance, big hair to big butts, disco to emo, tonight we'll play out the month with an eclectic mix.

Cover detail from Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back" (1992)

Let's listen to some music!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Faraway Thoughts

Marriott Hotel in Torrance

Honestly, my mind just hasn't been up to blogging over the past few days.

But it's a passing state. ;-)

I've been spending too much time looking at the Olympics, reading, and just letting my concentration drift. Let's just say that I'm on vacation.

Some place faraway. . .

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Second Hand Unwinds

Mickey Mouse Lorus alarm clock

Yikes!!! Where does all my time go?

Well, I was thinking of celebrating Mick Jagger's birthday. He was born on July 26, 1943. However, I don't really have enough free time today to do a decent job of expressing what I like about his music, how it influenced subsequent generations of Rock 'n' Roll artists, or which pieces are my favorites.

Moreover, this type of post is deceptively time intensive. I spend way too much time wading through videos looking for the ones that are both engaging and capable of being embedded. Both of these elements are obnoxiously complicated because of YouTube's intellectual property concerns. While I have some empathy the situation, ultimately it is just an irritation.

Veronica Lodge watch: "Lots of Bucks"

Oh well, that's about all the time that I have for now. ;-)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

2012 Weekly Wrap #15

Image from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998): "This is bat country."

I confess. I've been a slacker. ;-)

Ideally, this Wrap would have gone out on Friday. It didn't. But I feel like the posts have been engaging and fun. From ballerinas to arrogant bastards, from Bat Country to Turkish harems, we've covered a wide array of topics.

As always, I'm hoping to improve the pace of posting back to at least a "one per day" average. But I'm not going to stress it. I plan to be blogging for the long haul and I'm going to do it at a comfortable and sustainable pace. If I have the time, energy, and inspiration to get back into a rapid production mode, then that's how we'll go. For right now, two posts in three days isn't bad.

So, before I start experiencing bad waves of paranoia, madness, fear and loathing, intolerable vibrations, let's get to the Wrap.

Michael Heizer's Levitated Mass at LACMA

With eleven posts in eighteen days, here's the breakdown:

We had three Art posts. A visit to LACMA allowed me to get my first view of Michael Heizer's Levitated Mass as a completed installation. In a hybrid post, we looked at some examples of "old school" orientalism in art and music. Then, we celebrated the birth date of Edgar Degas with some photos of his works in local collections.

For Music, we had three posts. Inspired by the Oh Nancy show at the Torrance Art Museum, we listened to some songs on the topics of Easy Bake Ovens and light bulbs. Then, coming across a mannequin of Elvis at a local shopping center, we enjoyed some classic Elvis songs from 1957. Finally, in celebration of George Clinton's birthday, we had a funky time and tore the roof off the sucker. Can you dig it?

One post went to Friday Flowers, featuring sunflowers. Another post went to literature, celebrating the birth date of Hunter S. Thompson. And one post went to advertisements, looking at the images on the side of beer delivery trucks.

Finally, two posts were at about personal interests. I expressed my growing interest in landscape photography. Then I recollected old times at the Del Amo mall in Torrance.

And that's the "week" that was.

Elvis has left the building.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Real Type of Thing Going Down

Detail from Parliament's Mothership Connection (1975)

I've long expressed my enthusiasm for "funk" music and afro-futuristic imaginings. These approaches to creative expression combine a wacky playfulness with a legitimate critique of social biases, hiding subversive countercultural values under a veneer of gaudy caprice.

One of the masters of this style is George Clinton. The creative leader of Parliament-Funkadelic, he brought an innovative approach to African-American music. Simultaneously impertinent and inspired, his music could lift the mind up to the stars with a funky rhythm.

So, since he was born on this date in 1941, let's wish George Clinton a Happy Birthday!

Detail from the cover of Funkadelic's Maggot Brain (1971)

Can you dig it?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Muses Work All Day Long. . .

Detail of Dancer Taking a Bow (The Star) (1877) by Edgar Degas

". . . And then at night get together and dance."

That's one of my favorite quotes about the Arts. It's especially appropriate for today, on the birth date of Edgar Degas, born in 1834, one of my favorite Impressionists. No other artist has captured the beauty and grace of dancing as well.

It's all about motion and the transience of the moment. The way in which the figures are positioned, the flashes of color, the evocation of space, these elements create a visual rhythm that carries the eye across the canvas, as if, through the act of seeing, the viewer is a participant in the dance itself.

The Tub (1888) by Edgar Degas

It's a lyrical vision that can also be seen in his sculptural works. Even something as placid as taking a bath becomes a study in motion, a languid twist and stretch, with a natural grace and an inviting poise.

Raised up High into the Psychedelic Sky

"Fire Rainbows" in the clouds over North Redondo

Today, I saw a dazzling display of fire rainbows, blazing a radiant trail of color horizontally across the sky. My photo captures only a hint of the prismatic glory that scintillated up above.

It seemed like something either out of a mystical revelation or a psychedelic trip. ;-)

And on that note, let's celebrate the birth date of Hunter S. Thompson, born on July 18, 1937. "We can't stop here, this is bat country."

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

An Original in an Area of Imitators

Mannequin of Elvis Presley at the South Bay Galleria

I haven't much to share today, not much time either. However, while strolling around the South Bay Galleria, I came across this mannequin of Elvis at the Art Plus Gallery, along with some other interesting pictures.

Later, I started thinking that I haven't really done any Elvis posts at this blog. Yeah, for the most part, I avoid Pop Music blogging on most topics earlier than 1967, but the King ought to get special treatment. ;-)

So, let's take a quick flight of fancy back to 1957 and dance the night away. If you can't find a partner, use a wooden chair!!!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Old School Orientalism

Detail from The Turkish Bath (1862) by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

On this date in 1782, Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio was premiered.

It's a fun opera, with many impressive arias and clever compositional techniques. But what always captures my interest is how it illustrates European fascination with "oriental" culture. Harems, eastern despots, and exotic customs, these are some of the hallmarks of the genre, frequently played for laughs.

And for erotic imaginings. The "Orient" was an almost fantastic place where Reason and Order were overwhelmed by the sensual and the decadent. So, artists and composers rose to the challenge of satisfying European desires for this Dionysian vision, filled with spices and odalisques.

Detail from The Women of Algiers (1834) by Eugene Delacroix

So, I figured we could look at a few classic images and listen to some music evocative of Oriental fantasies.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Late Afternoon with a Levitated Mass

Levitated Mass (2012) by Micheal Heizer, on display at LACMA

I finally got around to seeing Michael Heizer's Levitated Mass at LACMA. I'm still processing the experience, formulating my thoughts, but my feelings towards the work are generally favorable.

I really liked seeing it in the late afternoon. With the golden light and the long shadows, the walkway trench had a liminal quality. The giant stone marked a transitional point between shadow and light; there was something vaguely cairn-like about it.

Anyways, my opinion is still in flux. I think that I'll need to check it out again to see how the experience holds up. But I figured that I would share a photo with you tonight. ;-)


Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday Flowers: Summer Sunflowers

Yellow Sunflowers

Well, it's been hot and muggy down here in the South Bay. The sky is overcast, promising a warm summer rain.

I was hoping to start exercising on a regular basis again. At least, I wanted to start taking daily strolls. Yet, the oppressive humidity leaves me feeling awfully damp after just a couple block. Annoying!!! And the constant grey of the leaden sky saps at my spirit.

But the day seems brighter when beautiful flowers are around. So, here are a few beauties to chase the gloom away. ;-)

Dark red sunflowers

Very pretty!

Del Amo

Lucky Strike Bowling at the Del Amo Mall

I went to take a stroll at the Del Amo Mall. The location was once the world's largest mall, a shopping center of unequaled magnificence. The decades have taken their toll, but it's still a nice place to shop. Way better than some heartless big box discount store like Walmart or Target.

When I was a teen, back in the mid-80s, this was a major hang out. Chilling at the Orange Julius by the theater or hanging out at the food court, I spent countless hours. Seeing how it's changed over the years, I feel very nostalgic.

Oh well, I'm happy to have an internet and online shopping, but I can't help but feel like a distinct experience of consumerist culture has been lost over the years.

I have many fond memories of the old B. Dalton and Walden bookstores. I miss them. . . And, you kids, get off of my lawn!!! ;-)

Colored fountain at the Del Amo Mall, near the AMC Theaters


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tasteless Fizzy Yellow

Image from a Stone Brewing truck delivering Arrogant Bastard Ale

Down here in the South Bay, it's common to see delivery trucks transporting all sorts of beverages, especially beers.

As I was walking about today, I decided that I would photograph a few for fun. ;-)

In total, I came across seven different trucks on my thirty minute stroll. And I passed by eight different bars. That's not an outrageous quantity. . .

La Cerveza del Pacifico: The Tide Is In!!!

I'm not much of a beer drinker, but I have a warm spot for the Arrogant Bastard Ale. I have to admire a bottle that reads:

"This is an aggressive beer. You probably won't like it. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth."

They don't call it Arrogant Bastard for nothing. ;-)

On the other hand, here's "one that implies that their tasteless fizzy yellow beer will give you more sex appeal."

Bud Light delivery truck: The favorite beer of NFL fans


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Love for Landscapes

View of the Pacific Ocean from the Getty Villa in Malibu

When I started this blog, I was taking photos of buildings or art works or landscapes merely to provide an interesting view to go alongside my writing. My view of photography was that it was simply an accompaniment, a decoration. Moreover, I see myself more as a writer than as a photographer.

Fifteen months later, I've taken thousands of photos. And I'm starting to really get into it. I'm no longer looking for images that will complement, but, rather, images that will command. Now, I've got a whole lot to learn about taking pictures before I can call myself a "photographer" but I feel like I'm on the right path, perceiving the pictorial potentialities in my environment.

I figured that I would share a few landscape photos that I've taken over the past month. Yeah, they're not fine art, but I'm fond of them. ;-)

Afternoon view of Los Angeles county from Rocketship Park in Torrance

I'm looking forward to developing my technique. In a world so rich with beautiful and interesting sights, it seems a shame to let such images pass by unrecorded, left to fade away in the viewer's memory. Hopefully, I can capture some of these lovely visions, saving them here at Paideia to be appreciated by all those random "web surfers" that find their way to this humble blog.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Baking Up Bright Ideas

Detail of Nota Prop (2010) by Arthur Henderson

Well, I haven't much time to write up something clever tonight. So, instead, here's an image that I saw at the Oh Nancy "Blank Land" show, which was on exhibit at the Torrance Art Museum. It was only a two day event, closing last Tuesday.

Overall, the show was really engaging, full of interesting pieces. But I was charmed by this piece, which reminds me of a supersized Easy-Bake Oven. ;-)

So, let's have a restful Sunday evening and listen to some music.

Friday, July 6, 2012

2012 Weekly Wrap #14

Image from the title sequence of the James Bond movie, The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

Well, I was hoping for a better rate of productivity, but my life has been busy over the past few weeks. It's been pretty good actually. So, I can't get too disgruntled by missing my blogging targets. ;-)

Anyways, I've been having fun with the various topics, even if I'd like a better pace. Let's face it; the old rate of two posts per day are long gone. If I can put up five entries per week, I'll be content. Certainly, I can inflate that number with "Image of the Day" and other such "tagger" posts, but I feel better providing more content.

Maybe I'll try out more quickie posts. It seems to be conventional wisdom that short-form blogging is more popular. On the other hand, I'm not writing Paideia to become "popular" or build a large following. I'm blogging because I want to share my thoughts and experiences in a public venue, in a manner that is both fun and comfortable.

We'll see. . .

Detail of Image Peddler with Female Shopper (2011) by Gerit Grimm

Anyways, here are the eleven posts since our last Wrap:

As regards Art blogging, we had three posts. First, we zipped across Los Angeles visiting a few museums and many galleries, checking out numerous interesting sights. Then I reviewed the excellent show of Dale Johnson's work at dnj Gallery, "By the Sea". Finally, we took a look at Gerit Grimm's exhibit of ceramic figures at the Long Beach Museum of Art.

We also had three Music posts. Two were birth date celebrations. The first was for the opera composer, Alfredo Catalani. Next, we wished a Happy Birthday to Carly Simon. Then, we looked at some empty classrooms and gothed out to some Darkwave vibes. ;-)

Our single Pop Culture post was in honor of that feline funny page legend, Garfield!!! Now, I'm in the mood for some lasagna.

Our Friday Flowers were again without poetry, but the silent roses need no words to enhance their charm. We also celebrated the arrival of Summer and the Full Thunder Moon.

Finally, I celebrated Post 600 with a bit of navel-gazing.

Over at Madrona Musings, we discussed the Colloquy panels in which various topics of relevance to the Los Angeles art scene are considered. Then we turned our attention to the two day Oh Nancy show, "Blank Land". First, We discussed the project's narrative premise. Then, we shared some photos from the Opening Night. Good times!!!

Well, that's all for now. Hopefully, we can get more productivity and quality over the next few weeks.

Cover image from Garfield Says a Mouthful


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Humble Earthen Vessels

Detail of Teapot Peddlers (2011) by Gerit Grimm

I recently visited the Long Beach Museum of Art and saw an excellent ceramic exhibit, featuring the works of Gerit Grimm. The show, entitled "Beyond the Figurine", is comprised of these contemporary works that were inspired by the museum's collection of classic British and French figurines, with styles varying from the Rococo to Victorian bric-a-brac, which are also on display upon the nearby walls.

It's interesting to see how Grimm reinterprets the implied narrative of the figurine style. Her works capture the light-hearted feel of the traditional pieces, but convey a deeper sense of mystery or weirdness. The strange cat-faced heraldry, the diverse peddlers, and the circular gatherings, these elements create the feeling that Grimm has developed her own fantasy world. It's an interesting vision.

Detail of Monument (2011) by Gerit Grimm

This show will be ending on July 8. I definitely recommend checking it out before it closes.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Thunder Moon

Thunder Moon shining through the South Bay nocturnal marine layer

In spite of the hazy night sky, I was able to catch a decent photo of the (almost) full moon. At this time of year, it's called the Buck Moon or the Thunder Moon. Since I think that the later sounds way cooler, that's what I'm entitling this post. ;-)

I really enjoy gazing upon the celestial lights, but life in Los Angeles means that light pollution prevents me from admiring all but the brightest of heavenly bodies. Well, the Moon is bright enough. So, here's a post in honor of Luna's gentle light.

Monday, July 2, 2012

600: Thoughts on Blogging

A collection of magazines

When I started this blog, my initial expectations were not set very high. I had serious doubts about the value of undertaking this project. My concerns were varied, but the most salient was in regards to "wasting" time. In short, was this blog going to be a purposeless vanity project that would drain away my time and energy?

So, I came to terms with the strong possibility that I would be writing for nothing and to nobody. It was likely to be enthusiasm and creativity lost among the sea of information, pixels poured into the endless flow of the internet. If this was the almost certain outcome, then why should I start a blog? What is my incentive?

I turned my focus inwards. Although I would love to have a large and faithful readership, as long as I am having fun writing, it is a worthwhile endeavor. This blog is all about me and my interests. If it entertains or informs an occasional reader, then that's just icing on the cake.

More magazines

Well, the blog has grown fairly well over the past year. By most standards, it has a miniscule readership, but it's large enough that I constantly feel amazed that there are some people out there who actually want to read my odd ramblings. On average, I put about an hour a day into this blog. Considering this relatively minor effort, I feel pretty good about things. ;-)

And I hope you, my dear readers, find that coming to Paideia is a rewarding visit. I know that the internet has a nearly infinite supply of sites to meet just about any desire. So, it is with humble gratitude that I welcome you to this little blog.