Saturday, January 31, 2009

as necessary as your miranda rights

dropping the exclusionary rule from criminal justice was not a manoeuvre i expected from justice john roberts. perhaps i just can't remember it as a goal warned about in the papers when he was elected years ago. certainly, the exclusionary rule has changed over the centuries, specifically being applied at state level after a warren court ruling in the landmark case mapp v. ohio, but the rule has been applied in other important u. s. legal cases since the 19th century. it is a means of protecting 4th amendment rights, specifically written into the constitution in reaction to the general warrants or writs of assistance that allowed british soldiers to search the houses of colonists before the revolutionary war. let's remember exactly what the 4th amendment says (i think it's always important to go back and look at the constitution once in a while): "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issues, but upon probable cause, supported by oat or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." certainly, the exclusionary rule creates obstacles for law enforcement and prosecution, but the rule seems necessary, natural, and historical. my favorite part of this article: "Justice Scalia cited the work of a criminologist, Samuel Walker, to support his point about increased police professionalism. Professor Walker responded with an opinion article in The Los Angeles Times saying that Justice Scalia had misrepresented his work. Better police work, Professor Walker said, was a consequence of the exclusionary rule rather than a reason to do away with it."

and i think this is a great idea: power bills that compare how much energy your home is using versus those of your neighbors. we need to know. it's one more way to become conscious.

last night i continued to take it easy. i've had a slight head cold, which hasn't been horrible, but has made me tired and sluggish. booth and i ate at esparza's, which was interesting. the food was good. i played it safe and stuck to a burrito. but the buffalo meat enchilada might be interesting? i don't know. after eating, we had a beer at beulahland while waiting to see a movie at the laurelhirst theatre. we saw tell no one, which i've been wanting to see a little. it's a french thriller that sounded interesting and received okay reviewed. i thought it was entertaining. not particularly artful, as cache was. it has a weird 70's look to it, slightly yellowed, many of the characters dressed in outfits that could pass as 70's, except the few arab thugs who help the main character avoid the police.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

the walkmen at the wonder ballroom

booth and i walked two miles north to the wonder ballroom last night to see the walkmen play. i was pretty excited. i spent nearly twenty dollars on a ticket, a sum i generally don't dole out for many bands, but to be honest, i was a little disappointed by the performance. the walkmen weren't untalented. they were played well, and of course i love their most recent album, so it was enjoyable to listen to them. but overall, the show was lacking, mostly from the deficiencies of the venue. the crowd acted horrendously. they jostled each other, talked loudly, didn't pay attention to the performance. one girl put an empty pbr can in the hood of a stranger's jacket. when he turned and discovered the can, he turned around and asked if i had put it there; i pointed to the girl already running away from his vicinity.

to overcome the volume of the large crowd, whoever was running the sound just turned the volume louder. this just made the band sound sloppy; the loudness causing too much echo and cancellation in the large space. the wonder ballroom looks like it was originally a church in its first life, and the large room out of which the venue operates was not designed with acoustics in mind, so there was a loss of fidelity in the performance. one of the best aspects of the walkmen's latest album is the crispness and precision of the instrumentals, yet all that was lost at the wonder ballroom.

and really, i was slightly disappointed in the band itself. the band members deviated every now and then from the structure of their recording, but sometimes these deviations seemed to surprise the other band members and this led to several awkward moments when an instrument seem to abruptly end the theme it was playing to carry on with something different. still, the improvisations weren't even daring. when grizzly bear experiments with a song, the rendition ends up sounding radically different, almost as if a completely different band were playing it. during one ill-fated song, the singer seemed to be unable to hit the correct note; his voice sliding into several flat notes before saving himself too late. this occurred during only one song in which the singer was sliding between notes during the entire piece, but apparently this was just straining his voice, or he couldn't hear himself well enough to pull it off.

all in all, i love the walkmen, and enjoyed seeing them last night, but this was far from my favorite performance.

Friday, January 23, 2009

portland hearts its mayor: a rally

i just returned from the rally in support of portland's mayor, sam adams, the first openly gay mayor in the united states. there was a pretty large turn out, nothing ridiculously massive, but it was a circus. in case you don't read the news, sam adams recently confessed to having sex with an 18 intern years ago after lying about during a campaign in 2005 and his recent mayoral campaign. he says that he and the boy, beau breedlove, only had sex after breedlove turned 18, though they first met when breedlove was still 17. adams confession hit national news tuesday during the inauguration, and he admitted the truth only after an article in the willamette week concerning the scandal was going to press. some people think this affair will render the newly elected mayor ineffectual, but from the rally it looks like he still has a lot of support from the city, though to be honest, the rally looked more like a gay rights event than a rally in support for the mayor. it may be that certain people don't understand the difference between supporting someone because he or she is homosexual and because they believe a person who would excel in his or her position. there was exactly one protester against the mayor i saw there.

just so you know, "just out" is a free gay publication for the portland / vancouver area. in an opinion piece, one of its writers thought the mayor should resign.

this is a sticker someone gave me at the rally.

this is the t-shirt of the friend of the person who gave me the sticker.

this rally was documented for you, antonio urdiales.


i saw my doppelganger on the train today. in a strange moment of unheimlichkeit, i turned around and literally thought i was looking at my reflection in the window, 'til i realized it was not my mirrored imaged at all but rather another short, skinny boy with short hair standing a car's length from me. i mean, really we didn't look that much alike, but it was such a shock to think i was looking in a mirror then suddenly realize i was looking at another person completely. the boy came and sat next to me, on the other side of the plexiglas fom where i was standing next to my hanging bike. i wanted to introduce myself, but how does one say, "listen, do you think we look like one another?"

often, my sister and i find songs or televisions shows or pieces of art that with which we explain ourselves and how we think, such as the television show "pete and pete" or the song "dance this mess around" by the b-52's. and here's another cultural treasure that seems to explain a lot about me. this one was of my favorite shows when i was little: does anyone remember noozles?

here's the plot synopsis from the last episode as given on wikipedia:

"Sandy's grandfather, who had discovered an entrance to Koalawalla Land while in Australia, purposely becomes trapped in the Crystal Place; and when Sandy finally locates him, only his spirit remains within the orb, trapped in a limbo-like state. She is able to communicate with him empathically by placing her hands towards her grandfather's, palm to palm, with only Pinky's protective bubble preventing direct contact with the orb. He informs Sandy that he entrapped himself there because he knew that he would need to live long enough to someday relay to his progeny, the fate which awaited both Koalawalla Land and Earth: in something akin to a conjoined-twin scenario, the two realms were born as one, but would be destined to naturally separate at a time of "cosmic maturity". Unfortunately, they had begun to separate far ahead of reaching this point; and as such, the unravelling of the forces which bound them together, would cause a cataclysmic reaction such as would obliterate both worlds.

The only way to prevent this catastrophe, once the worlds had begun to separate, would be for a skilled "chosen one" to mechanically override and then engineer the separation, via the use of two crystal levers, known as "Wiseman Crystals". Sandy's grandfather had already found one of the Wiseman Crystals, and her father (by the time of the last episode) had unwittingly found the other. It turns out Blinky, now able to see through his amnesia; is the chosen engineer. In the final seconds before Earth and Koalawalla Land destroy each other; the Noozles ascend the slopes of Ayers Rock and place the Wiseman Crystals in a predisposed altar, where they absorb the forces of the impending separation; and allow Blinky to guide the separation of KoalaWallaLand away from Earth in a joystick-like fashion.

Because Earth and Koalawalla Land now exist as completely separate dimensions, Pinky's magic is no longer able to bridge the ties that formerly bound them; meaning Blinky and Pinky must now forever remain in their home, separate from Earth. They are last seen as an image in the sky, wishing Sandy well, and knowing that she has the maturity to live a happy life without them. During the final episode, Sandy's mother also learns the truth about Blinky and Pinky."

insane right? what were we thinking in the nineties? this has to explain why i'm so insane sometimes.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

oh, and i forgot to mention...

i saw lucky dragons talk about their work/music at PSU last monday.

this project is called "make a baby," in which the audience contributes the sound for the live performance. a wire with a very low electrical charge is connected to a speaker in a way so that when a person touches the wire and other people around the wire, the sound the speaker creates changes in pitch depending on the configuration of people touching each other. it's a sort of manipulated circuit.

they had a lot of amazing projects, a few of which i've already posted to facebook including the open book project. they also host "sumi-ink club," in which any one can come to the meeting and draw in sumi-e and anyone after that can draw and alter until the end of the meeting. this really reminded me of all the sumi-e assignments i had at asfa and jim neel talking about, well, not technique exactly, but rather talking about lines and how we should paint with our wrists. i remember having to draw portraits in sumi ink without looking at the paper or using pencil or anything for weeks on end. wow, that was a long time ago.

Monday, January 12, 2009

have i mentioned...

although i was apprehensive about the art i've been seeing in portland, i have seen a couple exhibits this month that left me in awe. the first was at mark woolley gallery, and unfortunately the exhibit is already closed; i saw it on its last day. but it was really interesting, stephen scott smith's work is matthew barney meets twin peaks.

stephen scott smith, bunnysmith

smith confesses that his art focuses on narcissism in his artist statement, and i far from doubt his narcissism. smith looks like a good looking, intelligent gentleman and i probably don't. he says, "I am basically making fun of the whole fame-obsessed world that I am of, not above." which is fine. we know all about narcissism. as cal would point out, christopher lasch wrote a whole book on it and i've heard enough driveling essays on narcissism and facebook while i was at college to last me a lifetime. stephen scott smith then adds that he believes "what we see in others is really ourselves." interesting, but an idea still not fresh of face. so let's see, he connects narcissism with facebook and then with voyeurism (maybe?) with identity. okay, nothing new.

stephen scott smith, zebrasmith

but what was interesting about this exhibit was the craftmanship. everything was perfectly crafted. and you know jess marie has turned me and i know believe in craftmanship over concept. it's like pretending you're writing the best novel ever while you can't even put a grammatically cognizable sentence together. the technique and form carries the concept, even the conceptual artists (with a captial 'c') understood this. so even if smith's work is conceptually shallow, the execution was flawless. each photograph was blown up to large proportions, the focus right on the tip of the nose of each self-portrait. extraneous material to the photograph, such as frayed rope, meticulously worked into the portrait and displayed. the videos were edited very well. the whole exhibit was visceral and visually stunning.

stephen scott smith, video still from hyenasmith

in the end, smith's musing about narcissism fall a little flat, except that it is interesting, or at least i find it personally interesting, the ways in which narcissism manifests and what it produces when not denied. if we suppress our narcissism through facebook by calling it "social networking," what if we were to call it just what it was and be unabashed?

anyway, more impressive and stunning and interesting is an exhibit i happened to catch at IGLOO saturday morning. the exhibit, or rather i should say, on-going installation/de-installation will continue through to the end of january. gary wiseman with meredith andrews present "where am i."

they're working on a project that builds on relational aesthetics and takes those principles in a different direction. let me describe my experience: when i entered through the white metal front door into IGLOO, my eyes immediately fell onto gary wiseman himself sitting at a small table in the middle of the gallery. the table was cluttered with papers and books and computers and cables and a large scanner. to the right of wiseman's table and the door were scraps of fabric and paper and other samples sealed into ziploc bags, neatly and evenly spaced pinned to the wall. to the wall to the right of this display, a web of strings hung connected various points in the corner. on the far wall another display of drawn and printed images as well as a map of portland. in the right window, a multicolored disco ball; in the left various objects and artifacts.

wiseman asked how i had found the event, handed me a hand explaining the project, and then explained that the abstract matrix of string to my right corresponded to the pins placed in the map of portland on my left which themselves corresponded to places he had held exhibits or events in portland in the past. he explained that the objects in the window were left from past events of his, and that each visitor to the gallery was invited to take one of the objects as a gift. he was then taking the address of each visitor and was plotting where the gifts went to in relation to where they had been used in his art ventures. they plan to use the information to create a book and further art projects. i inspected the various displays and objects in the gallery, nearly speechless. not only was i impressed and interested in his project, but it was exactly the sort of idea i jot down and analyze in my own sketchbook. in fact, the entire exhibit looked like my sketchbook had become large and three-dimensional. especially the web of string.

this sketch was from my sketch book and used as the title slide for my senior project in art history titled "Relational Aesthetics and the art of creating space." gary wiseman's project reminded me of felix gonzalez-torres, who everyone knows i love. i even own a piece of licorice by the late artist, tucked safely away with the reason of my possessions in alabama where it can't be eaten.

and i wanted to tell this all to gary wiseman but i was just struck dumb for some reason until his friend meredith came in. she was nice, helped me pick which gift i should take. we settled on a ball of blue yarn to match the jacket and sweater i was wearing.

i sat while gary took my photo, chatting with meredith, sometimes looking nervously at the camera. and all i could think was how this was the sort of art i've been waiting to find and how much it reminded me of my own art and how i wanted to make more art.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

jokes: we've got 'em

gail collin's pieces are generally dull and uninformative, but here's a zinger from a piece about obama's warm reception to the opinions of the senate, writing: "We are rooting for Burris to make it into office, since any Roland who names his kids Roland II and Rolanda is bound to provide a welcome diversion in the gloomy months ahead." what a riot! you know i'm still upset about this whole situation.

and today there is no sunshine to keep me chipper. yet despite the rain, i still have to get my books to the library before i end up paying my next paycheck to the institution.

Friday, January 9, 2009

the sun actually shines today

it's been a bit warmer these past few days, in the fifties during the day. and even if it chilled a bit today, the sun came out and the city was resplendent in sunlight. and it wasn't just that lighter gray that portlanders call sunlight. one afternoon a few days ago, i met one of my coworkers outside the office. she said, "look at that sunshine!" i looked around and saw only gray skies, replying, "oh, you portlander..." but today: beautiful. so i convinced booth to ride the train with me out to cascade station so i could get a case for my new ipod at best buy and then stop in at ikea. it was clear enough today that we could even see mt. hood hazily looming in the distance.

the train wasn't crowded and it was nice to be outside, walking around.

and i'm much happier now that i have more coffee mugs and a drying rack for the dishes. however, when i went to city bikes earlier, i lacked a dollar for lubricant so i'll have to return tomorrow, and the woman i spoke to there said a tune up there would cost $75 which is a little rich to me right now. i'll see if i can't find someone to look at my bike for less. and i forgot to take my books with me, so now they're late and i'll have to go to the library tomorrow. furthermore, even though booth got off the train at 42nd and hollywood to go to trader joes, our arms were already carrying our ikea purchases and i forgot shopping bags, so we bought just some dinner for this evening and i'll have to return tomorrow.

so booth and i will eat some dinner, drink some beer(obtrusive sidenote: drunk, walking home last night, booth and i stopped into zupan's market for "snacks" which i took to mean more beer which i didn't drink when we got back, so now i'm drinking deschutes inversion ipa as i type), then the possibilities are endless. last night we went to a pub quiz at the belmont inn with helen and garrett at which i had a lot of fun even though i was unfortunately little help to the team. we still ranked at sixth from the bottom out of twenty. but i enjoy hanging out with helen and garrett. they're laid back, no drama; they're easy to talk to; and they're not the sort of people who party all night and i feel like i'm struggling to keep up with me. you know i like to be in bed by midnight most nights, especially now that i wake up so early. on tuesday, helen, garrett, booth, and i ate dinner together, drank some wine. it was nice, probably the highlight of my week. it's nice to get together like that, and we plan to do it hopefully once a week if we all find the time. on top of that, christina, a friend of helen's booth and i met when we flew out here to visit months ago, has just moved into town with her sister in the past few days, and i'm pretty excited to have more friends here.

i'm hoping everyone wants to get together for a little obama inauguration celebration on the 20th, even if just for a few drinks earlier in the evening at the blue diamond or our apartment. of course, holocene is also having a party that night and if others want to really go out, i'd be willing to loose a lot of sleep for obama. though to be honest, both of the opinion pieces by krugman and brooks today in the times were about how hard it's going to be for obama to pull off this economic "recovery." krugman doesn't think obama's stimulus ("stimulation" for those rural alabamians) plan is ambition enough. brooks said, "Maybe Obama can pull this off, but I have my worries. By this time next year, he’ll either be a great president or a broken one." i personally believe, or at least hope, that obama can be the greatest president, let alone pull us out of this financial morass. and hope was a big part of his campaign; it's why we voted for him. although we can't tell what exactly obama will be able to accomplish or will be willingly to do, the american public who voted for him hopes that he can at least help us with this tremendous crisis. which reminds me of my old standby fluxus aphorism, "demand the impossible and hope for everything."

fridays are my new saturdays

here's a reason to celebrate: blagojevich was impeached this morning. i wonder what it feels like to be out jogging in your neighborhood knowing that you're not just going to be fired at anytime, but impeached. on the other hand, despite blagojevich's impeachment, senate democrats flip-flopped on me and wednesday decided to seat burris anyway. whatever. you know, sometimes even the politicians i respect so much disgust me.

so, my schedule has changed a little. i now have fridays and saturdays off and will work a strange afternoon shift on sundays. which is fine because that means i have friday off and can still go out saturday night. so today, what am i going to do? i have so many errands. i need to go to the library, i have to buy some lubricant for the chain of my bicycle, i have to try to fix the back brake on my bicycle, i need to buy a case for my ipod, and i really should return to REI to exchange these fenders. there seem to be a million other things i need to do, too; i'll of course be reminded of them when it's too late. yet first things first: more coffee. i need to go to stumptown for a little half pound du cafe. oh, and i desperately need to go to trader joe's and buy some groceries. e to, e to, e to...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

finally nice weather

if november brough the rain to portland, and december brought snow, here now january has brought the winds. the wind has been so strong the past two days i have found it hard to pedal my bike. the wind slows me down to the point that i feel as if i am riding underwater. my body combined with my bicycle apparently isn't aerodynamic enough for this weather. and i swear this morning that the wind pushes the rain to fall parallel to the ground. by divine providence, as i arrived downtown on my bicycle, i rode west one block further than i normally do to avoid making an illegal turn onto a one way street in front of two patrol cars, and suddenly found myself sitting next to my 35 macadam bus a few blocks away from the stop. i met the bus at the stop and decided just to ride to work since the bus was there and i was went and the wind was intense.

i do enjoy my bike ride every day. it only takes me about thirty minutes, maybe a little less, to bike the four miles from the apartment in the inner northeast to my office just south of the south waterfront. here, let me show you a map:

View Larger Map

however, if you'll notice this route takes me through downtown, and i usually take the train back over the river into the inner northeast, so there are large swaths of the city that i never see or explore much, namely, the southeast, most of the northeast, and the north. sometimes booth and i do wander a little farther north into the northeast and north sections of the city, and we often run errands downtown (such as when we went to the city of books a few days ago), but for the most part we stick around in our neighborhood. it just sometimes exhausts me thinking about walking too far and then having to walk back and sleep and wake up and begin the commute all over again. and generally there's no pressing to leave the neighborhood anyway.

as booth and i were on our way back from powell's on sunday, we got on the train at 10th and yamhill or whatever the crossroad is, and as we passed by pioneer square we noticed a protest again the attacks by israel against hamas in the gaza strip. however it wasn't the large gathering of people that can occur here in portland. there were twenty people at most, holding signs and waving flags. it reminded me of the group of senior citizens who protest the war in five points south in birmingham, the five or seven people who show up to the protest, the cheap, sometimes unreadable signs they hold, the smiles on their faces as they wave to passing cars which occassionally honk in support. i wish i had had my camera with me to show you the gathering here in portland, and i kind of wish i had known about the protest, had been able to participate.

the situation in palestine is absurd. the israelis suddenly attack after seeming to smudge that bottom line just slightly when the truce between the israeli government and hamas ended a few weeks ago. then today, after devasting the small, densely populated area, israel decided to allow three hours of cease fire a day for humanitarian help to the gazans. does this make sense to anyone? the israelis say they are attacking hamas, yet the people being injured are palestinian citizens. the israelis seem to understand they are hurting these civilians and do not seem to be affecting it apparently makes sense to the israelis and the american government, but apparently the rest of the world, particularly the french and egyptians, are trying to stop the insanity.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

burris and blagojevich

so this blagojevich nomination of ronald burris to u. s. senate is a fiasco. everyone, politicians, newspapers, acquaintances, illinois citizens, being very politic, speak highly of burris. supposedly burris would be an excellent candidate to the senate. but the senate does not need to accept a member to its ranks when that person has been posted after such a scandal involving the naming of that post. everyone can see that blagojevich needs to be impeached, and that the senate needs to dismiss blagojevich's appointment. while i am not an expect in the law, i think that the constitution can be looked at in this case, considering we really haven't had a situation like this despite how some legal experts try to relate this situation to previous scandals. article i, section 5 of the constitution reads, "each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own members." so obviously the senate can judge the legitimacy of an election. the question is can it judge a gubernatorial appointment. but i say that this appointment is contingent upon an election therefore can be judged, and furthermore point out that the senate can judge "qualifications" which i believe would include the circumstances of the appointment. and despite the high opinion people seem to have of mr. burris, i think we should take into consideration the fact that burris knew the situation he was putting himself in when he accepted this "appointment." the news talks about how calculating blagojevich can be, but could burris be just as calculating? what kind of person would accept this appointment knowing just how controversial it would be? why would burris not just wait like a person we would hope to be chosen as senator would? burris obviously wanted this position badly enough that he was willing to take it under dishonorable circumstances.
so let me tell you about the new year.
first of all: J. D. Salinger turned 90 (corrected: both age and link)this year, and here is a lovely little article about how he changed the short story. although this author for the times disparages salinger's spiritualism, i think that this element in salinger's is what makes certain stories great "coming of age" novels. my coming of age novel: look homeward, angel by the early twentieth century modernist thomas wolfe. a massive tome of stream of consciousness writing given to me at nine years old by a friend of the family who i called uncle. i didn't finish reading the novel until i was 18 or 19, but now it's one of my favorites.

second: oregon's pretty progressive. minimum wage here has now been elevated to $8.40 per hour. and even more progressive, the smoking ban is finally in effect. you can't even smoke in a bar here. this means i won't wake up in the morning wondering what that horrible smell is until i find the clothes i wore the night before on the floor reeking of cigarette ash. booth and i went to the blue diamond last night to have dinner and so that he could watch the alabama game, and after a few minutes i was suddenly struck. hey! my eyes were watering, the place didn't smell like an ashtray, i wasn't going to smell like an ashtray when i walked out. it was amazing. certainly there must be a lot of grouchy people out there who have to smoke outside by the front door in the cold, but at least it doesn't get too cold here in portland. and luckily, there were still plenty of people gambling last night, so hopefully the smoking ban won't cause the state economy to collapse after all.

third: yesterday morning, with arctic blast 2008 a week behind us, i thought we were about to see the beginning of arctic blast 2009. when i walked outside to unchain my bike, the scary man who lives in the basement apartment walked out and said, "snow again, huh?" i had no idea what he was talking about until i turned around and saw ne flanders blanketed in snow yet again. i sighed and set off to work on my bicycle since it wasn't even cold out. the bike ride was a little miserable however. while the snow lay over the ground, the atmosphere was warm enough that as snow as the tires of my bicycle rode over the white ground the snow instantly turned to water which splashed over me. luckily, i was smart enough to wear my rain suit, which is now covered in grime from the dirt and sand that the city threw down to help driving in the snow last week, but my feet were still soaked by the time i got to the office.