Or perhaps Cat Power

September 16th, 2011 § Comments off § permalink

At the gym this morning, I was silently bemoaning the execrable club music being piped in through the overhead speakers. But then I thought, wait, what do I expect them to be playing instead? Debussy? Help me out with this one, Internet.


April 22nd, 2011 § Comments off § permalink

As Jeff Williams awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found his apartment transformed in the night into a monstrous pile of boxes.

Ringin’ it in

January 1st, 2011 § Comments off § permalink

Six bottles of champagne, two bowls of punch, five dips, one tub of peppermint bark, four other munchables, fifteen happy guests, and one rowdy midnight gathering in Duboce Park. What a lovely way to start the new year.1

Here’s to a happy, healthy, prosperous 2011 for all of us.

  1. Apologies to those of you who weren’t invited! My girlfriend and I started by inviting her friends, and that alone was more RSVPs than we bargained for. []

I totally rocked my delts

September 4th, 2008 § Comments off § permalink

Today I paid my first visit to the gym in about, oh, four years. People: What was I thinking? What kept me away for so long? I love going to the gym! And I hope you all remind me that I said this in writing, on the Internet, if I start to get lazy about it.

My main fitness goal is to lose 70 pounds. Okay, I’m kidding. Eighty pounds.

Critic’s corner

August 30th, 2008 § Comments off § permalink

Two reviews: one of a play, one of a product.

Uncle Vanya, California Shakespeare Theater
I saw the outdoor matinee on a sunny Saturday afternoon. My right eye thoroughly enjoyed it. My left eye was largely, shall we say, indisposed.

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock, SPF 55
This sunblock provides broad-spectrum protection against ultraviolet rays, and it goes on dry, without any greasy residue. However, the package’s warning to “avoid contact with eyes” should be printed in much larger type. Alternatively, each tube should be packaged with a sharp fork, so that any unfortunates who get this sunblock in their eye can give expression to their physical anguish by gouging out the burning, severely reddened organ.

If the government trusts them, maybe I could

October 7th, 2007 § Comments off § permalink

When one of my friends mentioned that it was Fleet Week in San Francisco, and that the Blue Angels would therefore be coming to town, I immediately got on the highest horse I could locate on such short notice. “It’s unconscionable,” I complained. “Does it make any sense for jet fighters to fly in close formation above a densely-populated city? No, it does not. Can you imagine if an accident happened? I don’t think I could ever watch the Blue Angels. I’d feel horribly guilty.”

By the time I wound up in San Francisco this afternoon, I had forgotten this conversation entirely. So it came as a complete surprise when, as I walked south along the Embarcadero, I heard a thunderous roar overhead. Looking up, I saw four jets arcing through the sky in a diamond formation, maybe a half-wingspan apart; they swung out over the water, then curved around and flew over the Financial District.

I still think it’s completely reckless to conduct an air show above downtown San Francisco. However, I am forced to concede that it is also totally awesome.

Me, I want a hula hoop

August 11th, 2007 § Comments off § permalink

A woman next door is trying to summon her son by repeatedly calling his name, which is “Alvin.” It’s all I can do to keep from throwing open my window and singing “Christmas, Christmas time is here…

Coming up for air

April 19th, 2006 § Comments off § permalink

Hi, everyone. I’ve been working ten to twelve hours a day, nearly every day, for the past month. That’s why I haven’t been returning phone calls or emails.

My ridiculous work schedule will improve soon, I think, at which time I look forward to hanging out with all of you again. Until then, please accept this pathetic apology.

Seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees

March 19th, 2006 § Comments off § permalink

Tobias Meyer, the worldwide head of contemporary art at Sotheby’s, has an uncommon knack for inciting art appreciation in others. John Colapinto describes Meyer’s method in last week’s New Yorker:

In the Antonello [da Messina] gallery, Meyer walked over to an Annunciation on the far wall and explained that the painting was rare in that it depicted only the Virgin Mary, and not the announcing angel. “You, as a viewer, are put in the position of Gabriel, who comes to tell her of the miraculous birth,” Meyer said. He stopped in front of the painting, which was made in about 1475 and is not much larger than a page of this magazine [about 8 inches by 11 inches]. Mary gazes out, past the viewer, her left hand holding her blue robe closed in what Meyer pointed out was a “protective” gesture. “Because you are a stranger,” he said. Then he fell silent. Something about his focussed presence facilitated a deeper absorption in the work, a greater attention to its delicacy, its quiet grace, and its reserves of understated emotion. I could not recall being so moved by a painting. Only when I turned from the canvas did he smile at me and say, with an arched eyebrow, “Amazing, no?”

Lawrence Weschler, one of my favorite authors, has a similar gift but very different methods. His new book, Everything That Rises, is a collection of what he calls “convergences”—visual rhymes that he has noticed between two photographs or paintings—which he uses as a jumping-off point for a vertiginous chain of free association. It sounds a bit like late-night dorm-room bullshitting; at his reading tonight at Cody’s Books in San Francisco, Weschler said one reviewer had described the book as “bong literature.” But Weschler’s erudition and relentless curiosity save the book from that trap. Instead, each page offers a new way to see the world.

Every museum should employ someone like Meyer or Weschler. That someone should neither be featured in a $10 audio tour nor responsible for leading people around hourly. Ideally, visitors would not even know of that someone’s existence until a mysterious stranger sidles up to one of them in a gallery and murmurs a few words that fill the lucky visitor with a sense of wonder.

(Incidentally, Weschler is not at all the timorous intellectual one would expect based on his old book jacket photo. He’s as bold and confident when he speaks as he is when he writes. A more recent photo comes closer to capturing who he is; image and personality would match even more closely, though, if he got a pair of contacts and a clean shave.)

Where it’s at (I’ve got two neologisms and a portmanteau)

February 27th, 2006 § Comments off § permalink

An article in today’s New York Times Magazine about Broken Social Scene, a Canadian musical collective that’s all the rage with the kids today (including me), described one Toronto musician as having “an interest in hipsterish pursuits like urban planning.” I’ve long known that I am one trendy, trendy bastard, but there it was in black and white, and in the Times no less: My very profession is a hipsterish pursuit.

As I sat reading the article, wearing my favorite American Apparel hoodie and sporting black plastic glasses, slightly shaggy hair, and a day’s worth of stubble, I thought about commemorating the moment by taking a photo of myself using my cellphone camera. Thankfully, I stopped myself at the last possible moment, thus averting what would surely have been a cataclysmic hipstersplosion.

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