On Wednesday afternoon I ate a tasty but wrongly-cooked (too rare) burger at Brooklyn Burger Bar, then headed for home. About halfway to my apartment I popped into Park Slope Books, where a little aimless browsing led me to a copy of Self-Portrait: Book People Picture Themselves (1976). The book is composed of 816 self-portraits — all "commissioned" by Burt Britton, a former manager at The Strand — and includes this rather striking drawing by Jonathan Baumbach:
Jonathan Baumbach, a novelist and co-founder of FC2, is the father of filmmaker Noah Baumbach. Here's a headshot of Jeff Daniels as Bernard Berkman, the "earless" father character in Noah Baumbach's semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story, The Squid and the Whale. (Incidentally, this movie takes place in 1980s Park Slope. Many scenes were shot here, too.)
Anyway, tonight I went back to Park Slope Books and bought that copy of Self-Portrait for $8.00. I'd been thinking of the Baumbach drawing's facial expression off and on since Wednesday, and I wanted to scan it. The drawing—an excellent appendix to my memory of Jeff Daniels's character in The Squid and the Whale—reminds me of this horrific Donald Sutherland face from Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978):
When I showed Katie the Baumbach self-portrait tonight, she immediately said, "That looks like some of my drawings of you." Here's one of the drawings she's talking about. Katie drew this picture of me in 2003 while I was asleep on the couch:
fine, fine, a quick lame one while nobody is looking.
Oscar nominations just came out. i just wanted to pop in and say *THANK A GOD* that Dreamgirls was not nominated for Best Picture. i am not sure why i am all of a sudden pretending the Academy Awards are an Important Institution to me. in fact, as early as age 9 i had severely faith-eroding experiences with the Oscars [1990 was a effing shocker...Fields of Dreams insteada Goodfellas!!!]. i have only seen one of the 21st century's Best Picture winners...Return of the King!!! Rusell Crowe is a yob, Matt Damon's Dillon's jawline creeps me out, it's easy to find reasons to stay away. we all remember the holocaust, but does anyone remember that fucking Gladiator won Best Picture???
anyway...for some reason a coupla weeks ago i tried to go see Dreamgirls and had to walk out. it was just totally sucky and boring...i can totally "deal with" and EVEN ENJOY musicals, but NOT glammy crap musicals infused with American Idol-inspired woahwoahwoah-ing bringItAroundOneMoreTime "vernacular" belting it out. i am feeling cranky and probably didn't give the movie a fair shake butbutbut...ALSO ANGRY SIDENOTE: the Microsoft Encarta-style "background" montages of civil rights shit was really offensive!!! splicing 60s Birmingham footage into yr commercial shlock doesn't a Message make, but, hey!, what useful "context" for ahistorical chuckleheads!
anyway...eddie murphy was nominated for Best Actor. maybe he really cut loose in the final 45 minutes which i excused myself from, but i couldn't help but think i would have rather been watching a feature-length Randy Watson biopic, because that was basically the essence of Eddie's character...except being held captive in a crap musical!!!
I am sorry for this blog post. I didn't see Chicago, why would i, so why did i go see Dreamgirls?!??!?! i don't want my money, time, or the popcorn calories back...i just don't want to make self-destructive decisions! cf 2007 Oscars "coverage" comin' down tha pipe?
I drew this picture six years ago, in January 2001. It appeared on our wedding invitation in late 2002 and on the cover of Sonora Review in 2003. In 2005 I thought about using it, somehow, for Pantalaine, but so far I haven't put it on any Pantalaine shirts or anything. Maybe I will. Now it's January 2007 and I'm looking at this drawing for the first time in a year. So anyway here I am sitting in front of my home computer before work looking at an old drawing. Why am I doing this? I don't know. But I'm enjoying myself. I feel weird and not great or bad. I feel positive. I want some coffee. I should have taken Mo out an hour ago.
I'm not feeling nostalgic but hey, this picture really brings back memories. For example: An hour before I drew this picture I was at lunch with my dad in downtown Barrington, Illinois. He met me where I was interning and took me to the local deli, Boloney's, which is my dad's favorite deli in the midwest. I'm not going to capitalize midwest. My dad got us a couple big sandwiches and I told him about how nervous I felt at the internship: This isn't why I'm nervous, but I need to use the scanner. I need to pick the best time to interrupt my boss. The scanner is hooked up to his computer, but he's always sitting at his computer, having meetings with clients or talking to clients on the phone. Can I interrupt my boss to use the scanner? What if I break his concentration when he's with an important client? I don't want to bother him when he seems busy, but when will he not seem busy? My dad listened to me, then he paid for lunch. I loved my dad then and I love him today. I keep thinking of the phrase ancient tooth as I look at the drawing this morning. Ancient tooth?
Until now I'd never thought about how I drew this Janus-like drawing at the end of a January. It wasn't even a recent January. Ancient tooth.
This particular Ron Mueck (rhymes with Buick) sculpture has appeared on crude futures once before.
My friend Ryan is in town, so he came with us. We got up, I made some omelettes with potatoes and onions, then we bundled up and walked to the museum. Was the museum crowded? Yes. No. It was full of people, and there was plenty of room for all the people. We saw both the Ron Mueck show and the Annie Leibovitz show, then we walked to the new-ish Brooklyn chapter of Red Bamboo (Ryan's favorite NYC restaurant) and ate lunch. Katie and Ryan had Soul Chicken sandwiches. I had BBQ wings, OJ, and coffee. The OJ tasted good and also weird, sort of like Five Alive or Sunny Delight. Anyway the coffee wasn't very hot or good. I won't get it next time I have a sit-down meal at Red Bamboo. I'll get an Americano from Smooch, around the corner, and bring it with me. The servers won't object when I bring my Smooch Americano to the table, or at least they won't say anything. Or, maybe the only way to really object is to say something. Most of the food at Red Bamboo is fun to eat and loaded with carbs and calories. Even though I'm not vegetarian this year like I was, mostly, last year, I look forward to getting the $6 Red Bamboo lunch special many times this year. I would rather eat one of their fake Soul Chicken sandwiches than any real chicken sandwich except maybe my mom's. She makes a great grilled chicken sandwich with bacon and lettuce. I miss eating those. It was an anchor for many casual '80s and '90s summer meals.
After Red Bamboo we walked home. Then Ryan and I met up with Amanda and my co-blogger Steev at MoMA, where we all watched a newly restored print of Eraserhead. Amanda was kind and thoughtful enough to buy me a half-price ticket in advance of my arrival but I scooped her kindness by flashing my new MoMA press pass — I got this in the mail at BOMB last week; it was a complete surprise — and "scoring" a free ticket. I used my BOMB press pass to get Ryan a free ticket. So we saw Eraserhead for free and it was "worth the price of admission." Natch haw. Just kidding. Etc. I thoroughly enjoyed watching it. I'd forgotten how funny it is. A lot of it is funny, and a lot of it is sort of gross and scary. Some parts are boring; I fell asleep for about a minute, twice. I laughed aloud a couple times, briefly. Some folks in the theater laughed aloud more than 40 times. The frequent pockets of "knowing" laughter were a mild distraction. I'm not judging the laughers, though. (Didn't someone talk about this on crude futures once before? About the "knowing" laughter that emanates from "sophisticated" audiences during "difficult" films?)
After Eraserhead Ryan went his way, Steev and Amanda went their way, and I joined Katie at Camp Friendship in Brooklyn for a game of adults-only dodgeball. The game was organized by the church Katie works for. Does that make it "Christian dodgeball"? A lot of last night's players are not churchgoers or Christians. They didn't try to act Christian. If Jesus were to play dodgeball, would he throw the ball? He'd probably just stand there until he got hit, right? He'd have to.
After Christian dodgeball I drank a triple-rum punch at Commonwealth with some of the other dodgeballers. Then I retired to 200 Fifth for a pint of Corsendonk (a favorite of mine but sort of flat last night), four glasses of Jameson (neat), and a four-flavor chicken wing sampler. Every once in awhile I love to gorge myself, alone, at a sports pub. If doing this is right, I don't want to be wrong.
Aric Mayer and I were there to record the interview and take some pictures.
The set is extremely stark: loud saffron walls and small piles of red dust. The only object on the entire set is a crazy oversize matador lamp. The lamp has nothing to do with the text of the play. According to JT, he and a colleague were walking around a few weeks ago and talking about how the set needed some kind of flourish. Some kind of embellishment. At that very moment, JT spotted the matador lamp in a storefront window and said, "That's it, that lamp right there."
Now you know the backstory on the matador lamp in A Spanish Play and my surreptitious snapshot of Aric Mayer photographing John Turturro adjacent to the lamp.