New York City

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I’ve mentioned my love of tagger ‘YOU GO GIRL!!’ before; how spotting their message all over the city brings a bit of cheer to my day, how that kind of communication’s only possible in a place like New York.

So imagine my surprise when, reading an article about futuristic abandoned buildings, I see THIS:

(no, not the giant spacedong building.)


This is in WEST GERMANY! Up a crag whose name translates as ‘The Devil’s Mountain’! HOW DID THIS GET THERE? The obvious answer is, whoever YOU GO GIRL! is took a trip to Germany and brought their spraycan with them. Still, it’s so strange seeing something closely tied to my neighborhood and everyday commute in a different country, in such a random context.

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I volunteer for Brooklyn’s Spectacle Theater, a film collective run by its members. This entails working the ticket booth, selecting movies for screening (which I’ve not yet taken advantage of- if anybody out there has some desperately obscure movie that deserves the light of day, let me know), and editing trailers for upcoming films.

So far I’ve edited several trailers, including ones for ‘Blackboards’, ‘Massacre at Central High’, and most recently, ‘Year of the Woman’. All good fun and a great excuse to practice my FinalCut skills (and I recommend all three movies, wildly different in tone). But. BUT. Where my trailers are straightforward presentations of the movie’s tone and feel, with a bit of a hook (hopefully) to spur potential viewers to want to see more, there is one man, one editor of trailers at Spectacle, whom I hereby crown King of the Star Wipes.

A bit of explanation for those unfamiliar with the Simpsons or early video editing machines:

Earlier video editing systems ran your two scenes to be cut together (your A and B image) through a box that allowed you more control over how A and B joined. Instead of just cutting, you could now do all sorts of wipes:

…fades, and effects (many a 90s music video suffers from overuse of Paint Effect).

Now in this context, a Star Wipe seems negative, a flashy use of an effect not only unnecessary, but one actively detracting from the material at hand. This is often true, when done by amateurs. However, as someone who appreciates the ‘go big or go home’ school of acting/editing/flair, if it’s laid on with a trowel, it moves past distraction to its own stylistic level of excellence. So it is with C. Spencer Yeh’s trailers. Fire wipes, bullet effects, and Bonnie Tyler’s ‘I Need A Hero’ as backing music for the ultraviolent Japanese ‘Battle Royale’? Shock cuts and a bombastic Wall of Sound song for ‘The Sadist’? Yes, please.

While I edit with the Zen credo of ‘what the movie is lies completely within the movie itself’, extracting what I hope is a film’s essence from whatever lies between a film’s beginning and end and presenting it to the viewer, Spencer chops across time and space, using pop songs and effects drawing attention to themselves to present the movie as pure spectacle. Neither of us are more ‘right’ in our philosophy – the point of a trailer is to make the viewer want to see the movie, by whatever means necessary. Whether that’s presenting a nugget of what’s to come or grabbing attention with unusual juxtaposition ultimately doesn’t matter. Though I have to say, Spencer has truly outdone himself with his latest outing. Upon seeing this trailer for ‘American Hunter’, his completely balls-out style so perfectly serves the film I cannot imagine it edited otherwise.

AMERICAN HUNTER (Arizal, 1988) Trailer from Spectacle Theater on Vimeo.

Now we all need to go see this movie.

Some thoughts about the film itself:
The look of the film confuses me. The crappy film grain and washed-out lighting imply a miniscule budget, yet the copious car crashes, explosions and well-timed martial arts scream ‘sky-high Bruckheimer budget’.

How did they manage to hire a full cast of fighting experts who all look like 8th grade biology teachers?

Pet eagle + flag bikini in the same shot.

“Let’s do it” = extras, clear the set.

Lucky for everyone reading this in the NYC area not stranded by Hurricane Sandy, the film’s showing THIS FRIDAY at MIDNIGHT. See you there.

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Huzzah! I can officially say what the hell I’ve been up to the last 6 months – my extraordinarily time-consuming project is part of the upcoming ‘Small Stories‘ exhibition opening June 23rd in Brooklyn.

From curator Joetta Maue:
“Small Stories is an exhibit which will celebrate the small moments in life. We are looking for work that tells the stories of the everyday; this can be in a literal or abstract way. Perhaps you make work about the banal, from the detritus of every day life, mapping your daily existence, or from the everyday relationships we surround ourselves with or desire too.”

Banal? Everyday? Small moments?! I was in the midst of a project enormous in scope and triviality, just at the point of realizing the full amount of physical effort needed to make this 2-year-old idea come fully into existence, when I saw the call for submissions. Part mea-culpa, part endurance test, submitting it to the show was the kick needed to finish it. I have been working on nothing else for the last few months, and it has slowly dawned on me that the sheer time investment is probably why no one else attempted anything similar in scale.

If I seem cryptic about my entry it’s intentional- I’d love for everyone to come out and see this bad boy in person, if only to marvel at its utter pointlessness. That’s not a knock- all art is pointless; were it functional, it would be craft. But I digress. The show information’s below, and I, THE ARTIST, will be there in person from 6 to whenever I feel like knocking off and heading to Zombie Hut, the nearby Tiki Bar offering bottomless bowls of Goldfish crackers and Boggle (oh, sweet refuge!). So come on down! Bring the kids! Drag your roommate! Tell your friends!

small stories
an exhibition of fiber work

Opening Saturday June 23, 2012, 6-9pm
On view June 20 – July 22, 2012

at the Urban Alchemist Design Collective
343 5th St, Brooklyn, NY 11215

Featuring work by:
Neta Amir, Sarah Bahr, Kristy Bishop, Millicent Bradleigh, Danielle Burgos, Nathan Carnes, Marcy Chevali, Marie France Cournoyer, Julie Anne Danylewich, Jane Waggoner Deschner, Autumn-Grace Dougherty, Ann Duggan, Di Ellis,Kelly Fleek, Veronica Fuentes, Peg Grady, Eileen Hoffman, Jane Lee Horton, Jan Johnson, Susan Lenz, Skid Lo, Sanna Majander, Anny Mefford, Laura Mongiovi, Nicole Monjeau, Ruth Moskell, Meg Pierce, Astrid Philipps, Patricia Reis, Laura Reyes, Lora Rocke, Dawn Rogal, Rachel Rose, Bonnie Sennott, Beverly Y. Smith, Ruth Tabancay, Katya Usvitsky, Ansie Vanderwalt, Leni Levenson Wiener

Info on space here.
Info on curator and exhibition here.

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How much do I want to avoid working from home? Enough to take a lengthy break to rectify finding only one animated GIF of the infamously goofy Tompkins Park rave. Flimsy excuse, or God’s work?

Go Santa, go Santa, go Santa…

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When visiting the Strand, I usually end up in their 3rd floor Rare Books room. This is partly because the room is accessible only via one elevator, making me feel slightly badass and spy-like just walking into it, much like discovering a hidden room in a video game. It’s partly because entrants are left free to roam in a sizable, open room smelling pleasantly of old leather and paper, FILLED WITH RARE BOOKS.

The rarest of the rare are displayed behind thick glass in an old-timey bank vault next to the main desk. Here you’ll find your Mark Twain signed first editions and rare monographs handwritten by former kings. Otherwise, everything else is out in the open. You can just wander around leafing through early editions of ‘On The Road’, children’s books from Soviet Russia, or pulp Victorian romance novels with ornate jewel covers. There’s even a tiny room in the back filled with books so ancient they disintegrate before your very eyes (it smells very nice though).

Now, ‘rare’ doesn’t always translate to ‘unaffordable’. Rare just means something you don’t come across very often, something there’s not very much of. This is an irresistible proposition to me, the possibility of having what may be the ONLY COPY LEFT of something, even if that something has little or no practical application or resell value. Actually, especially if it’s impractical with little resell value. Imagine my joy then, after wandering around looking at lovely and far too expensive tomes, to come across this baby on a shelf for a mere $15.00:

‘How To Click Before The Camera’ is a 1949 step-by-step guide for models on posing. I’m not sure why it’s so rare – the back page implies this was one of several booklets the company sold regularly, and How To Click seems the most comprehensive of those offered. In any event it’s a treasure trove of surreal imagery – floating heads, disembodied limbs standing on clock faces, and articulated mouth gestures with strange phrasings beneath.

Seeing as the magazine’s apparently so rare I thought I’d share the whole book right here, so in the unlikely event my computer and apartment simultaneously spontaneously combust, the world can go on learning which poses are FOR EXOTIC HIGH FASHION ONLY. Please, use this knowledge wisely.

Click to learn the dark secrets of ‘How To Click’.

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