That's a heater, by the way. Not a radio. A very modern family; you can tell by their choice of furniture. I always wonder what I was thinking when I chose a picture for a Bleat Ban; usually it's something I found months before and put away for future use. It was the size of the thing. The blankness. The way everyone's ignoring it even though it's enormous. The way they dote on the little girl . . . and the way the son seems to distance himself from it all.
If he's properly cropped, that is. In the rest of the picture I'm sure he's reading funnies.
Drove daughter to work. Got there early. Decided it was Edumacation Time, musical edition, and since I'd been playing Respighi before she showed up I figured this was a good time to lay some early 20th century symphonic glory on her.
The Trevi fountain went over good. The last Roman festival, not so much at first, because it doesn't cohere, but that's the point; it moves from street to street, to block to block, and each place has its own character, from menacing to happy to sentimental, until it all joins in one big procession to the end.
"I would be good in a movie," she said. Well, that's true. Off to work. On the way home I listened to another piece that has one of my favorite moments in music, ever, period. (It starts here, in the Harvest Festival movement; nervous scurrying dissonant sounds build to the most lyrical release you've ever heard. And it's so Italian. )
After dinner she wanted to go to the grocery store, which we did; fruit and vegetables were purchased. On the way back she had control of the music, and - hello. A Chopin nocturne. I'd forgotten she liked his piano work. So we drove and listened and she softly sang along.
I mention all this because it was just so ordinary, and so wonderful. You're always surprised to find that the latter is so often accompanied by the former, but you shouldn't be. Looking for such things or recognizing when they occur is the recipe for happiness.
Serious people are always sniffing the wind for confirmations of doom, preferable ones that bolster their Olympian misanthropy. This Paris Review piece on apocalyptic visions wonders if we're not already in the end times, and have been cheated out of the really good theatrical versions.
Most visions of apocalypse were spectacular, sublime. The possibility that we have instead whimpered our way into some kind of boiling-frog scenario—marked by slow but irreversible global warming, mass human displacement, and a gradually perceptible slide toward famine, disease, war, and extinction—is a radical departure from the convulsive display we’d long been promised.
The number of people living in extreme poverty around the world is likely to fall to under 10 percent of the global population in 2015, according to World Bank projections released today, giving fresh evidence that a quarter-century-long sustained reduction in poverty is moving the world closer to the historic goal of ending poverty by 2030.
Too bad it's already over. Back to the Paris Review:
According to an extreme version of this argument, the world as we know it is not only doomed but has already ended. Timothy Morton is the most notable architect of this idea, currently in vogue among ecology-minded academics and a diverse group of young artists. In books like Hyperobjects and Ecology without Nature, Morton advocates for a new weltanschauung called dark ecology and proposes that humanity has been radically transformed by so-called hyperobjects: phenomena so massive in size (black holes), duration (nuclear waste), or consequence (global warming) that they dwarf the scale of human experience. We cannot properly hold them in our minds.
According to Morton, hyperobjects have already brought about the end of the world, which he locates precisely in April 1784, the month and year James Watt patented the steam engine, and again, in 1945, with the deployment of the atomic bomb.
So he's a nutter. I know this sounds deep, man, but the idea that humanity has been radically transformed by nuclear waste is self-evident nonsense. The steam engine may have brought about the end of a world, the pre-industrial one, but not the end of The world, unless you consider that the inevitable consequences of industrialization is the destruction of the human species. It is more likely that humanity - meaning, the sum total of our different societies - would be radically transformed by something so small we cannot imagine it, like a virus.
By the way, I love this wikipedia entry on Morton: "He adopted the computer science term 'hyper objects' (denoting n-dimensional non-local entities, a term in use since 1967) in 2010, to explain objects so massively distributed in time and space as to transcend localization, such as climate change and styrofoam."
He also writes about food.
He also edited Cultures of Taste/Theories of Appetite: Eating Romanticism (2004), a collection of essays that problematizes the use of taste and appetite as Romantic metaphors for bounded territories and subjectivities, while empirically interrogating the organization of Romantic cultural and economic structures around competing logics of consumption.
The essay has an interesting middle patch about the Apocalyptic art of other centuries, then concludes with a paen to Patrick Reed. (Turns out the entire essay is from the catalog for one of his shows.) It deserves excerpting:
The drawings reflect this state of affairs through an abiding attitude of uncertainty and exhaustion. Edits and erasures are left present on the paper, which thanks to its preindustrial composition holds onto every tentative mark, every attempt to cover or rewrite. Reed’s catastrophic imagery lives in a constant state of revision and refinement wherein contours are redrawn and overdrawn, painted over, left half finished, or smeared with their creator’s careless handprint. The paper is polluted with the gray exhaust of its maker.
Finally, “Distant Hammers” is also an exercise in stylistic recycling, from the miniaturist calligraphy of Cy Twombly to the geometric forms of Malevich and the midcentury camp of Warhol. But Reed’s plumbing of these exhausted forms, rooted in the apocalypse as a historical object already past, feels new. So do his methods of artistic obeisance: his monk-like repetition of small scales or patterns, his devotion to an obscure geometry of space. Reed is working toward a vocabulary of cosmic transformation whose language will decay but whose mood will echo across the centuries, like the catastrophic broadsides that are his models, or the figural signs designed to warn future civilizations of radioactive waste at Yucca Mountain.
Here's an example:
Seems a lot to read into such drawings.
I've been snapping this unlovely block for a while: the Sexton Addition, aka the Portland Tower. In 2017 there will be people on those protruding slabs, sipping wine, looking at the sunset.
The cladding for the lower floors is starting to be affixed. It's a parking lot, so it's a pig-lipstick type situation there, as we say up North.
Lest you think the building stands alone in a sea of asphalt, here's context from around the corner:
It's two buildings away from being the sort of street it used to be - before the old commercial structures were razed and paved.
We continue with music cues for "The Little Things in Life," Peg Lynch's last continuously running sitcom. The cues run from substandard 60s cues to cringingly 70s.
For the first one: they used this a lot.
That little whoop-whoop sax grates.
If you remember the elegant, stylish, mid-century cues of the previous show, garish things like this make you wince.
It's out of tune because it's funny!
The cue may be ordinary and banal, but at least it fits the dialogue perfectly.
Well, well well well.
These really aren't very much fun, I know. But it gets better. The music gets better as the show gets better. The decade-and-a-half absence from regular writing shows in the first few dozen shows; either PL is recycling scripts or trying to restart the old spark with new material, and it just doesn't have the same old spirit. Part of the problem is Bob Dryden, who's decent but a bit weak. But part of the problem, frankly, is the scripts.
As I said, it gets better.
Instead of a PSA this week, some Dragnet. This is a remarkable sequence, as you'll soon realize.
The show was noted for its realism.
That might have been taking it a bit too far.
Mid-to-late 50s, believe it or not; a bit behind the times.
If I said Stanu, would you think the A was long or short?
But those backing vocals. I prefer the singers who aren't trying to make an antihistimine sound soulful.