Saturday, May 05, 2012

This Blog Has Moved

Redirect yourself to publishinggenius.com, thanks. If you're looking for my bio, you can find that by clicking on the "About Me" page above. (To be clear, publishinggenius.com is not my blog, but the website for PGP. However, I do write blog posts there occasionally -- hopefully fairly regularly -- and you can view them under the "blog" menu.)

Also, today was a good one. Stephanie and I got started around 9am, headed off to the BookThing (this place in Baltimore where you can get free books -- I got about 20, all bestsellers like Zadie Smith, Richard Ford, Cormac McCarthy, John Grisham, John Hodgman, John Stewart -- plus Mary Daly, Martin Buber and an outdated book on Wesleyan evangelism). Then we went to the farmer's market where we got some apples and some cheese biscuits. After that we went to some yard sales, including the Station North Flea Market, where we talked to Melissa Moore for a while about her lighting company and I found a pair of amazing blue baseball pants for $3 but didn't have the cash to buy. Stephanie bought us some ice coffee because it was hot out.

We went back to Stephanie's to read a manuscript she's been working on, but when she went to set us up in the backyard, she found a stray cat who had just birthed a litter of four kittens. Like -- just birthed, as in a few hours earlier. We scooted them into a kennel and let them nurse for a while, then took them to the Animal Rescue, where they were happily received. We are all amazing creatures.

The Animal Rescue is near Federal Hill, a popular neighborhood with lots of restaurants and bars, so we decided to read her manuscript there. First I watched the seventh inning of the baseball game. Jason Hammel pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings then gave up two runs while I watched, but O'Day got out of a jam and the O's won the game with their 8-2 lead.

We read the thing together, which was great and profound and personal and meaningful. I probably oughtn't say anything about it here, because it's still in the works. But we talked about it together as we walked around the narrow streets of Federal Hill. There was so much that is right in the manuscript; I can't wait until the project is finished. It is sure to be a beautiful thing. I felt inspired by the way Stephanie works, such diligent brilliance, and it was motivating to walk around and talk to her about it.

Unfortunately, however, by then it was 5:30pm and I was sapped of energy. Two late nights had taken their toll. I went home then and read the John Grisham novel I'd picked up at the BookThing. It was called Bleachers and it was 163 pages long. It was about a man named Neely Crenshaw who returns to his hometown of Messina, TX, where he had been a football star. Now his coach, Eddie Rake, was about to die. Rake was a man that Neely hated, a profound force in his life, but not necessarily a pleasant one. Over the four days that Neely is back in Messina, he comes to terms with his past -- with his former coach and his own behavior -- and in the end acknowledges his deep love for the man.

Then I tried to do some editing but was still too tired, so I wrote this.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Document of Possible Book Titles That I Just Found on My HD from Feb 25, 2009


All of These Things
Adam Robison
The World’s Top Latex Tycoon
Some Heft
Major Tom’s Debacle
A Rush of Bees
Thrush Poems
Biograph
Some Biographies
Some Lives
These Lives
This Could Be Your Life
Could Haves
Could Have Beens
The Beens
The Were
What Is Not Could Have Been
What Is Not Could Be
Now Poems
No Poems
Some Toems
Waiting for Poetry
I Could Not Stop For Death
More Frost
Soren Kierkegaard and other poems
Adam Robison and other poems

Me and Edward


Here's me (looking goofy) and Edward Mullany (looking like a superhero) in Washington DC, during Edward's mini tour. His reading at the Three Tents series was better than cherry pie a la mode I ate just after this leafy picture was taken.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Life is beautiful even for depressed God lovers at the park

For the last several days I've been doing it with leather pants on, and a dress shirt, and wrestling shoes, and a Brewers jersey, Paul Molitor #4.

I hadn't grocery shopped for round about 2 months then last night I grocery shopped.

Walking in the park Stephanie and I came upon a bench and in a thing in the bench a book (for writing in). Lots of the people had in it wrote about how beautiful was the park and its babbling brook and yet how depressed they were all, how people don't do them right or they can't remember what kissing feels like, but ultimately God was in control they just have to keep walking the path. One person was there to mark Mike's birthday but Mike had suicided already. It was a heavy book of nonsense that I loved all of and wanted to do.

Did you see that commercial for the truck where the plane is going to crash on account of its landing gear being snookered when now comes the truck into which lands the front of the plane? It's the most heroic commercial. When seeing it up I want to stand and pledge allegiance to something.

Welp I'm going to eat one of these pears then do some more edits.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Free stamped postcards

Want some free postcards that are already stamped? We're giving away Chris Toll postcards. Email postcards@publishinggenius.com with your address and how many you want (up to 5), and I'll stick them in the mail. And they come with postage so you can just write on them and send away. While supplies last.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Stephanie Barber at the BMA

Stephanie Barber has installed herself at the Baltimore Museum of Art. There is a large plaque with her name and bio on it. Here is the best photo I could get of that before a guard cut me off:
"No pictures in this gallery," he said. I glanced around. Stephanie Barber had cameras all over the place.

Everyday she sits in a large white room, at a massive wooden desk balanced on a pair of sawhorses, in front of two iMacs. Across from her is a huge green screen, where she films museum patrons who say, "I love you."

Off to her side, behind a short wall, there is a projection of two videos she made previously, my favorites (of many favorites), "Dwarfs the Sea" and "Bust Chance." "Dwarfs the Sea" is available to see in her book/DVD, these here separated to see how they standing alone, from PGP. It's an amazing and well-loved piece.

All around her are things you'd find in her regular studio: not just editing equipment, but keyboards, a vintage toy piano, scissors (safety scissors, per museum guidelines), a yoga ball, and plenty of external harddrives.

Colorful pictures torn from books are affixed with tacks to the museum's walls. There is a long collage of forest scenes, and a group of interior home shots. Barber shot these pictures and uses them as source material for some of the videos she's making. She's making a video every day for 31 days.

The show is called "Jhana and the Rats of James Olds, or 31 Days/31 Videos." The words "Jhana and the Rats of James Olds" are printed across a large-screen TV stand. The television shows the work she's made so far.

In a fascinating article at Urbanite, Cara Ober explains the show better than I can:
Lots of contemporary artists say they value the process over product, but in Stephanie Barber's case, this puts it mildly. Barber's work, in the center of the exhibit, is a makeshift studio and production house. For each of the 31 days of the exhibit, Barber will create an original video utilizing a variety of props, digital editing techniques, and random passersby. The videos will be screened on a monitor adjacent to the production area. Although her section of the exhibit will confuse and confound some of the visitors to the museum, her warm persona and willingness to interact with strangers is the strength of the piece. “I want visitors to be able to see the successes and the failures,” she says of the new body of work she will create here. Part performance, part intervention, and part studio, Barber's work is the most risky of the group, as well as the most contemporary.
She's been there for seven days now, so there are seven videos showing on a loop.

One thing I wonder about, though, is whether Stephanie values process over product. While she has thrown back the curtain on process, there's no indication that she's any less concerned with the outcome of her work. I found that the videos are still excellent, and more than that, they follow the same line of thought that I'm accustomed to in the Barber repertory; they are visual (and literal) poems constructed of found footage and highly intentional soundtracks.

That said, I imagine that if she had more than the museum's seven hours of operation to work on each one, it would be different. And in that way, the concept of "Jhana and the Rats of James Olds" becomes about more than just the 31 individual videos.

I kind of see it as an underdog story; art is competing against time.

So it makes sense that so much of the work is built from images that are several decades old, as if to question the effect of time on their relevance. One video, which is very vivid, takes as its source half-century-old 16mm footage from what seems to be a vacation across Europe. Headings that identify locations interstice the imagery filmed on the vacation, so that the headings become a poem and the real, meaningful content of the video. The repurposed film, by contrast, is ancillary to the text. That's an inversion Barber is keen to make.

She has also used passersby to record voiceovers for the videos. I'm amazed at how good some of the acting is.

Another video features a shot of a sailboat moving across the water, with a rosebush in the foreground and an island rock in the background. Then the image freezes and gets animated out of the picture as if by Photoshop. After it's been completely obliterated by painting over it (digitally, so I'm reminded of Corey Arcangel maybe), random letters begin to fly across the screen. Some of them rotate around and finally spell "SUCK IT," an unsympathetic gesture that seems new to Barber's work, in some ways, but not one that's ill-considered. I've watched the video several times and chuckled at each pass. A docent watched it and said, "Ha, that's pretty good." It contrasts the quietness of the piece sharply.

There are 24 days to go for Barber, and 24 more videos to make. It's an incredible show, and I am impressed with the BMA for facilitating it. I was just thinking that I wish I could see documentation of the project the way MoMA set it up for Marina Abramović, and then I realized that Barber is making this documentation herself in the form of the "I Love You" piece, which will show the participating museum patrons. I can't wait to see that, not just because it furthers the questions raised in Abramović's show, but because I expect it's going to be as heart-rending and great-to-look-at as everything else Barber has created.
The blog of Adam Robinson and Publishing Genius Press