Monthly Archive for January, 2008

Lunch with The Destroyer

In the paper

This morn­ing, Lisa and I had lunch with her Grandma and Grandpa, who vis­it­ing this week­end from Buf­falo. Grandpa Dick is a retired pro­fes­sional wrestler, who used to be quite big in Japan. In addi­tion to win­ning numer­ous wrestling titles, the masked “Destroyer” was a star on the most watched com­edy show in Japan’s tele­vi­sion his­tory, along with Wada Akiko. But he also was famous in the West – Deb­bie Harry of Blondie sported some camel-toe in a t-shirt from Dick’s bad guy alter-ego, Dr. X… Hott.

So, we ate a ton of Japan­ese food while Dick enter­tained the chefs and wait­staff with his antics and Japan­ese lin­guis­tic skills. The shot above is of a Japan­ese newspaper.

More pho­tos, and a video of The Destroyer wrestling a bear, after the fold.

Con­tinue read­ing ‘Lunch with The Destroyer’

Persepolis

Persepolis

From A.O. Scott’s review:

Perse­po­lis” is a sim­ple story told by sim­ple means. Like Mar­jane Satrapi’s book, on which it is based, the film, directed by Ms. Satrapi and Vin­cent Paron­naud, con­sists essen­tially of a series of mono­chrome draw­ings, their bold black lines washed with nuances of gray. The pic­tures are arranged into the chron­i­cle of a young girl’s com­ing of age in dif­fi­cult times, a tale that unfolds with such grace, intel­li­gence and charm that you almost take the won­drous aspects of its exe­cu­tion for granted.

I loved Perse­po­lis… the Iran­ian Rev­o­lu­tion was a curi­ous thing to study, in col­lege. Through­out the mid­dle part of the last cen­tury, with the Cold War rag­ing, the expec­ta­tion for “Rev­o­lu­tion” was nearly always a marx­ist con­cern. Even lit­tle Marjane’s rel­a­tives in Perse­po­lis expected the Pro­le­tariat to pre­vail. What was new and unique in Iran was the rise of a reac­tionary, reli­gious author­ity – that no one in the West, (and also the lib­eral elite in Iran), saw coming…

But as inter­est­ing as the pol­i­tics in the film are, this is still pri­mar­ily the story of a young girl, and her per­sonal jour­ney. I loved Ms. Satrapi’s depic­tion of her anar­chist friends in Vienna, (where she attended French board­ing school). These Euro­peans embraced her in part because of her expe­ri­ence with rev­o­lu­tion and war, but they had no clue about the per­sonal cost of this expe­ri­ence. Teenaged Mar­jane strug­gles with her iden­tity, while they laugh behind her back. And in the end, we’re not quite sure that she comes out on top.

Perse­po­lis is a jour­ney worth tak­ing, and the ani­ma­tion really is wonderful.

HD Trailer »

New Hampshire

It’s New Hamp­shire Pri­mary Day, (already?!), but I’m not going to make any pre­dic­tions. Hillary? Obama? McCain? Huck­abee? The polls have swung dra­mat­i­cally in the past week or so, in both par­ties. And, it seems that the coun­try is com­ing to one of those cul­tural tip­ping points that only occur once or twice per generation.

Some have com­pared this cycle to the elec­tion years of 1992, 1980, 1960… But, per­haps it’s more like the first months of 1968, before the assas­si­na­tions of Bobby Kennedy and Mar­tin Luther King, Jr. derailed all hope, as well as the cam­paign of Eugene McCarthy. We find our­selves in an unpop­u­lar war that nobody knows how to get out of, sad­dled with an lame duck Pres­i­dent with low approval rat­ings, and no sit­ting Vice Pres­i­dent in the race, and we’re fac­ing some eco­nomic uncer­tainty ahead. Still, there is hope on both sides of the aisle.

Is it a gen­er­a­tional tip­ping point? Are we as a nation head­ing toward a year much like that annus hor­ri­bilis of 1968? Nobody knows at this point, but maybe it’s best not to look back for com­par­isons – every­one across the polit­i­cal spec­trum is eager to move forward.

Con­tinue read­ing ‘New Hampshire’

On Video

I didn’t make any excit­ing res­o­lu­tions this New Year, except to get back to my fight­ing weight, and land a more per­ma­nent design job. Look­ing back on 2007, one thing that stands out is that my Flickr pho­to­stream finally became a more real-time photo reflec­tion of my life, with the con­ve­nience of my iPhone and its unlim­ited data plan. Sure, the qual­ity of my pho­tog­ra­phy might have dete­ri­o­rated, but I’ve always pre­ferred to shoot from the hip any­way. The iPhone suits what I want to do with Flickr.

But for 2008, I’d like to make one small res­o­lu­tion: do more with video. I bought a new point-and-shoot cam­era that does OK VGA video, (Canon Dig­i­tal Elph SD750), so I want to put it to use. It’s out­put is a lit­tle grainy, espe­cially in low light, but I think it suits what I want to do with it.

Here is a lit­tle idea that I got while walk­ing around the Meat­pack­ing dis­trict this past week­end: the The­ory store on Gan­sevoort street has these amaz­ing pul­sat­ing col­ored lights in the win­dow – so I shot them, and then looped them in iMovie, set to The Knife’s live arrange­ment of “Heartbeats”:

Con­tinue read­ing ‘On Video’

The Island at the Center of the World

The Iowa Cau­cus results last night got me think­ing about the many com­pet­ing polit­i­cal cul­tures present through­out Amer­i­can his­tory. Indi­vid­u­al­ist vs. com­mu­ni­tar­ian, rich vs. poor, urban vs. rural… but, at the core of our national psy­che is this ten­sion between the lofty ideals set forth by the Founders, and our attempts and fail­ings to live up to them. For every shin­ing exam­ple of Lin­coln, FDR, and Mar­tin Luther King Jr., there are gen­er­a­tions of back-sliders who prey upon fear in order to gain polit­i­cal advan­tage. Sure, to every­thing there is a sea­son, but I’m glad to see that the vot­ers in Iowa embraced hope and rejected cyn­i­cism, on both sides of the polit­i­cal spec­trum.

The Island at the Center of the WorldHis­tory is writ­ten by the win­ners, which is why Amer­i­cans tend to think of our colo­nial past and demo­c­ra­tic begin­nings as built upon and in reac­tion to Eng­lish insti­tu­tions alone – but the story is a lit­tle more com­pli­cated. It’s not often that I do book reviews, but I just fin­ished re-reading The Island at the Cen­ter of the World, The Epic Story of Dutch Man­hat­tan and the For­got­ten Colony that Shaped Amer­ica [excerpt] by jour­nal­ist his­to­rian Rus­sell Shorto, and wanted to rec­om­mend it to any­one look­ing for some inter­est­ing read­ing on the ori­gins of this country.

The tra­di­tional telling of colo­nial Amer­ica focuses almost exclu­sively on the Eng­lish colonies in Vir­ginia and New Eng­land. But, Shorto reminds us that the Dutch were the first Euro­peans to set­tle the island of Man­hat­tan, and built some of the most last­ing ideals and insti­tu­tions into the fab­ric of Amer­i­can polit­i­cal and cul­tural life.

Con­tinue read­ing ‘The Island at the Cen­ter of the World’

Roast & Toast NYE

We spent New Year’s Eve this year co-hosting a potluck din­ner at Jason and Liz’s place in Park Slope. Here is a lit­tle video that I put together:

We served roast beef to twenty peo­ple, drank cham­pale, and made some res­o­lu­tions that we prob­a­bly won’t keep. More below the fold, includ­ing some of my and Lisa’s photos.

Con­tinue read­ing ‘Roast & Toast NYE