Friday, March 28, 2008

Highbrow!: A post about musems

In a somewhat recent issue of the New Yorker there was an article that complained of that museums have become so focused on their own architecture that the content—and the visitors—are almost superfluous. Peter Schjeldahl writes, "Witness the revamped Museum of Modern Art: it is less a building than a life-size architectural maquette, in with you and I will the roles of little figures stuck in to convey scale."

For someone who majored in Art History, I've never been much for museums. I find most of them alienating and cold—even the the older, staid, less architecturally bombastic museums like the Met (which Schjeldahl favors) elevate their contents to such heights that I feel inspired to worship rather than connect.

Last year, Derrick and I spent some town in a mountain town in southern Spain called Ronda. One morning, listless and hung over and seeking shade, we wandered into Lara's Museum, which is relatively tiny and (I think) privately owned. At first, the hodge-podge of antiques, dusty clocks and old photos was less than compelling. The owner followed us at a few paces, picking up an old accordian on display and playing a few notes, rearranging this and that. Nothing was behind glass and anything—for better or worse—could be touched. It was hard to take Lara's Museum seriously.

But then we descended into the basement, where we discovered an extensive collection of torture devices from the Spanish Inquisition and an interrogation scene cobbled together with crudely painted mannequins in authentic clothing. The juxtaposition of the exposed mechanics of cheap display and the horror of real (and USED) remnants of torture was disconcerting and very powerful. As was the fact that you could touch the guillotine or the head crusher. As were the bluntly worded and badly translated captions that accompanied each item, for example: "Used to crush head until brain come out ears."

After a while, we weren't feeling very well. That's when the owner, who was still tailing us, jumped behind a display of a 17th century sherry winery and jovially offered to pour us some Moscatel. We were grateful, if a little perplexed. Once recovered, we went upstairs to check out a collection of old World War I photographs unceremoniously tacked to the wall. Again, there was something very affecting about viewing history is all its cracked, yellowed, fragile glory. No glass, no guards, nothing to buffer you from the fact that, yes, all this really happened. It really was something of a revelation. More than coming to understand Spain's difficult history intellectually, me and Derrick left Lara's Museum feeling it emotionally.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Not surprising, but still annoying.

The first line from the Daily Candy email I received today:

"War, the climate crisis, adult acne. It’s all so depressing until you get to BellJar, an enchanting new boutique in the Mission dedicated to gorgeous little things."

Wow, what a great set-up for an email about overpriced shit! I'm sure they didn't mean to offer up senseless consumerism as a salve for the horrors of war and our impending self-annihilation. They're just sort of dippy over there. It's sort of pointless to call them out for it, really.

Actually, this email kind of reminds me of the billboard I saw in LA this weekend—I think it was for the LA Philharmonic, but I'm not sure—and it said "Violins, not violence." Um. Yeah. And while we're at it: Flowers, sunshine, puppy dogs and rainbows.

Monday, March 10, 2008

My undignified breakfast.

I was in LA with Derrick this weekend, visiting my sister, her boyfriend, and my parents who were in from Milwaukee. On Saturday we went out to brunch and OMGOMGOMG we were seated next to Jason Lee and Giovanni Ribisi. They were with a large group that included their wives and their approximately 35 children, one of whom was wearing a gorilla suit and a leprechaun hat.

Steph pointed them out to me and we did the thing that people do which is pretend you don't notice. And actually, no one else in our group HAD noticed until Mom took out her camera and tried to take photos of me and Derrick. The waitresses totally freaked out and almost confiscated her camera. "Please don't take pictures of the celebrities." So then we had to explain to Mom and Dad who Jason Lee and Giovanni Ribisi were. Let me preface this by saying I love my parents. And yet:

Mom: What celebrities?
Steph: Jason Lee and Giovanni Ribisi are sitting behind Joss and Derrick.
Mom: Who's Jason Lee?
Steph: He's on My Name is Earl. On TV.
Mom: What's My Name is Earl?
Steph: It's a show.
Mom: (extremely loud whisper to Dad) There's a famous actor over there.
Dad: WHO??
Mom: An actor. Who does he play?
Steph: Earl.
Dad: WHO???
Mom: He plays a man on a show. Steph, who did you say was the other one was?
Steph: Giovanni Ribisi.
Mom: what's he in?
Steph: I don't know. This conversation is making me so uncomfortable that I can't think of anything.
Dad: WHO'S EARL?????
Mom: (extremely loud whisper to me) Did you know there's a famous actor behind you?

And so on. By this time, all the people sitting around us who had been studiously avoiding staring at Jason Lee's table are now staring at us instead. And I am staring at Jason Lee's wife's ass BECAUSE I've been trying to figure out if she is wearing the same Anthropologie dress that I own and I have reached the conclusion that, yes, it's the same dress, but mine reaches my knees and she has hemmed hers to barely cover her ass. As I'm squinting, the waitress catches my eye and glares at me.

(Psst, Jason Lee looks exactly like he does on the show his wife's super hot his kids are cute Giovanni Ribisi was wearing a hat the end.)

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Who is the Cupcake Tagger?

I first noticed a cupcake tag in my neighborhood several months back. But now they are seemingly everywhere, especially downtown Oakland and around the Laney College campus. Notice that some cupcakes have sprinkles and some don't. Perhaps the ones without sprinkles are actually muffins. Perhaps there is more than one Cupcake Tagger. Perhaps there are are rival Cupcake Gangs. Christ, I hope so.

Grand Avenue, near the theater:

Downtown Oakland, maybe 14th?

41st and Telegraph:

Laney College, which is practically covered in cupcakes (mmmmm)and points to the probability of the Cupcake Tagger being a college student. Notice there is only half a cupcake. "Share," says the Cupcake Tagger.