~’TOP 10 STUDIO GHIBLI FILMS’ . . WatchMojo sampler

screenshot: WatchMojo/YouTube

here’s a great sampler:

see: ‘TOP TEN BEST – STUDIO GHIBLI MOVIES’ / WatchMojo.com on YouTube






EM & me . . .

yesterday, May 16 . . was the day Emily died – in 1886, at her home in Amherst.
the Ghost – is in the room !!!!!


besides the current exhibit on Emily Dickinson, ‘I’m Nobody! Who are You?’ at the Morgan Library, up only til the end of the month / don’t miss it.

a feature length film . . on EMILY DICKINSON, titled, ‘A Quiet Passion’ / opened last week, here in NYC.

between the two of them / one can begin begin to feel closer to the austere Emily.
her times, her family and friends, her upbringing, and her life’s work . . with each endeavor, the museum show and the feature length film – dovetailing with the other, to fill in the blanks.

‘A QUIET PASSION’, (2017) . . . a feature film on EMILY DICKINSON,
directed by TERENCE DAVIES & starring CYNTHIA NIXON as Emily Dickinson – is now playing,
at the Quad Cinema . . here in NYC.

unlike the press I saw online just now, I would say, no – it is not a brilliant blockbuster, lordy.
what-ever . . are they thinking ?
it’s really only for . . diehard Dickinson fans; and perhaps some diehard poetry, and early Americana religious & history buffs / or . . . . ,
those with stressed-out jobs in, say . . the fashion world, who are just dying to veg-out on a pretty & yet informative / sensitive & delicately . . spaced-out 2 hour, period docu-drama, with . . good costumes.

speaking of which:
the various, period-correct / hand-tatted lace collars, seem to be authentic museum pieces ?!!!

did somebody say: passion, albeit . . quiet ?

turns out, at the beating heart of the Emily Dickinson real life drama / lies a most passionate & most illicit, yet apparently hardly hidden . . love affair; that between her brother Austin, and his mistress . . MABEL LOOMIS TODD /
while of course, wouldn’t you know: EMILY and his proper wife, SUSAN . . were best friends.
go figure !!

it gets even more complicated by the evil woman Mabel’s apparent utmost devotion to Emily’s poetry, if not to Emily herself, but who really knows ?
. . turns out, it was MABEL who first edited, preserved and published Emily’s poems, after her death !! and a most interesting facet of the whole tale – and which is more fully addressed in the Morgan Library exhibit.
and, in fact not mentioned here at all. the publishing. the devotion to Emily’s work.

instead, this film’s focus, is to try / to fill us in on, cinematic-ally . . on how hard it was, for the contrarian Emily, so rebellious, and yet in her own way / so very rigid . . to come to terms with her brother’s absolute flaunting of convention / to live and to work . . amidst a very complicated betrayal of her life, on all levels.

it’s a long meandering road, but we do get . . how Emily’s stubborn, questioning & contrary views – the depth of which gave rise to her inward / haunting voice, and which followed closely nevertheless upon the strict & repressed Protestant / Puritanical upbringing she had been raised in; and whose conventional practices she upturns & questions at all turns . .

and which clearly has its own individualist / stubborn yet undeniably ‘passionate’ set of narrow beliefs, . . how that ‘QUESTIONING’ . . . is thrown right back at her, to rationalize and ask her to accept Austin’s deviant behavior.

as in: doesn’t everyone have a right to find their own path, passion, and way / and, most importantly to ber to be . . forgiven ?

there is some gentle alluding – to the fact that the long suffering wife, Susan . . might be lacking in the passion department / or else, ‘why did she resist Austin’s proposals of marriage – so many times ‘?

there’s also some ‘alluding’ to some ‘acceptable’ veneer for the affair; as to the fact that ‘Mabel’s husband might be compromised by . . venerality’/ or, as we say . . std / and in those days, it was quite a devastating situation, re final solution ‘surgery’.

at any rate, unlike the Morgan museum exhibit, which keeps a petty tight pace attuned to the intellectual & ‘literati-life’ / whirl of passion, that complicated Emily’s life, and I guess made her akin to a contemporary reality star – in her own little village, no ?
college town, or not.

‘A Quiet Passion’ . . treats us to a physical, lustful . . . scene of Emily actually walking in on Austin and Mable, getting it on, while innocently on the way to the kitchen – for a midnight snack !!!
oh my !!!!!

you know, and then all that Protestant – faith questioning /comes on-board / so you see them all argue it out – from both sides of the ‘righteous’ ledger / or any side, actually.
back & forth endlessly !!
one thing’s for sure, Mabel does not get kicked out.

but, my question is: is it ever directly addressed in the poems, or in any of the huge correspondence she is supposed to have kept up ? how Emily felt about this affair ?
what was the low-down ?

what’s in the real . . archive / and, what was . . re-imagined by these filmmakers ?

a poem is narrated overhead, after the ‘outing’, to the effect that: ‘why has my world spun out of my control’ ?!!

I don’t think there is much mention, either on paper, in letters or diaries / or at least in ones that haven’t been long burnt (!!) by now . . . because there’s absolutely no portrayal in this film, on how that relationship / the between Emily and her brother’s mistress, Mable – evolved over the years. though it seems it did, re the Morgan exhibit.
and that’s one reason I would like to read the poems – now.
searching for references . . to the ‘goings-on’ / between the . . lines !!

though, that’s where the Morgan Library pipes in again, letting you know how MABLE was a big fan of Emily’s work, and sent her letters, and Emily sent her poems.
in fact, it was red letter ‘Capital A’ MABEL LOOMIS TODD, and not wife/ friend Susan, who was to publish Emily’s poems after her death . .

the Morgan does give us some tantalizing facts, but with very little emotional detailing.
again, I guess none exists on record ?

but still, who knew . .

that under all that carefully crafted, minimalist phrasing, a questioning, troubled emotional ‘storm’, based on a most purple love triangle, though not of her own making / but one sibling step away – was a-brewing,
all along . . confounding & confusing her ????

no wonder, she looked so outward for order – in the world.

but the singular, most important aspect of this film, and one that fills in a big void at the Morgan exhibit, is not an emotional ‘coloring’, of her life, but an actual . . DEMONSTRATION !!

of EMILY, at work on her famous ‘fascicles’ / or hand-sewn tiny packets of poems, small folded paper pages stitched together / or, in other words . . as we would say today, DO-IT-YOURSELF-BOUND !!
at the ‘spine’, or fold.

although the Morgan exhibit speaks of these ‘fascicles’, or ‘packets’ – there are no photos or reproductions, let alone a precious archival one. turns out Mabel, who actually gave the name ‘fascicle’ to these little hand-sewn packages of poems, and the other early editors . . dismantled them !!
oh. no !!!!!!!!

wow, that’s a whole other story, somebody else – has to write.

A quiet passion . . ?
indeed !!!!!!!

CYNTHIA NIXON, as a pretty good, very believable . . EMILY DICKINSON, first stabs a few holes, clear through a few leafs of folded paper, upon which she has scribbled her poems / to ready them for hand-stitched sewn binding, or DIY, as we would term it today !!

and that’s another reason, Dickinson is seeing a sudden revival, & relevance today.
her shaped pages, scraps, collages . . and DIY binding !!
are allowing us to see her / through the magic of modern digital / photographic reproduction, not just the old typeset printing of yore, as the singular poet – artist / she really was !!
the times, they just be a-catching up . . to her.
rebel, outsider. visionary. self-driven.

Emily pulls the thread – through the holes, to hand-bind the tiny books into packets, the easier to store the poems.
or . . what we would call today, self-published ZINES !!!!!!!

a priceless moment in the film . . ‘A Quiet passion’.
EMILY stitches . . a hand-bound – ‘fascicle’.
you can see how good CYNTHIA NIXON is, too.

all 3 images: screen grabs / via a short clip on the @aquietpassion / Instagram page

how strange / funny, well actually sad:
that although, as the Morgan gets it . . Emily is now being seen through new eyes as a poet-artist, and they, the filmmakers . . did make a point of re-creating this well-informed scene of her hand-binding her little books, and it’s produced so well, and so lovingly . . .
the footage doesn’t make the . . commercial trailer ???

I guess they forget, that in the end, probably . . it would be only artists and writers, in effect the scholars . . who know, and are desperate for this kind of historical detail / that would be the ones who would be watching the trailer, and they should have included it.
they should not never have dumb-ed it down, for the masses.
a ‘Hallmark’ film, despite the illicit affair – this is, not.
a cross-over film / this is . . not !!
why not revel in what it – is.
it definitely has its moments.




10 DAY SHOWING . . .

the exhibit will run thru SUN FEB 19, 2017
HRS: see gallery website

‘Perennial Shadows’ features original music by JOE WILLIAMS & a reading by PROJECT PAT.


from the press release:

“‘Perennial Shadows’ is a film that surveys kudzu, a plant native to eastern Asia & which is considered an invasive species in the United States.

THE FILM was shot over Fourth of July weekend throughout various small towns in North Carolina and explores different ways in which kudzu can consume the landscape of a town, as it is seen in fields, on roadsides, in parking lots and other affected areas. The plant is ubiquitous, but it is unclear whether it is considered a menace or accepted as part of a regional heritage.

KUDZU was introduced from Japan into the United States in 1876 at the World’s Fair Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. It was presented as an exotic, ornamental plant that could decorate porches in the form of a vine. In 1935, as dust storms began to damage American prairies, Congress declared war on soil erosion and KUDZU was hailed as the miracle plant that would combat it. Farmers were encouraged and even offered money to plant the vine on properties in hopes of making Southern farms “live again.”

BY 1946, it was estimated that three million acres of Kudzu had been planted in the United States. The plant thrived in the climate and environment of the American Southeast and began to grow at an uncontrollable rate of nearly a foot per day. Kudzu supports itself by killing and growing on top of other plant species, making it completely capable of smothering anything form small grasses to mature trees. Killing kudzu itself is nearly impossible – it grows back almost immediately after being cut down and it can take up to 10 years for herbicides to effectively contain it. By the early 1950s, promotion for the growth of Kudzu had come to a halt.

THE PLANT that was once regarded as a miracle was now considered “the vine that ate the south”. Kudzu became a staple in southern literature as a way to establish a setting, but also as a metaphor for topics such as racism, politics and poverty. In ‘Kudzu’, a well-known poem by the novelist JAMES DICKEY, the plant provokes horror amongst a community that shuts their windows at night in fear that snake infested kudzu vines wil creep into their homes. Myth began to take over science as southerners speculated a world completely covered in the invasive vine.

KUDZU continues to spread throughout the southeast at an estimated rate of 120,000 acres per year . It consumes buildings, destroys power lines and kills native vegetation in its path. Although the plant is intrusive and not native to the United States, it is well adapted and widely established in the regions where it thrives. Kudzu has settled as a force of nature that remains essential to the landscape and culture of the American South.”

and, I guess it’s inedible, and not a ‘fuel’ source . . . ???
and I guess if it shows up on your property, you have to devote a dedicated amount of labor – to keeping it at bay ??
damn, it’s the veritable terrorist . . weed.

TOMMY MALEKOFF (b. 1992) is an artist from North Carolina. He currently lives and works in New York City.

TOMMY MALEKOFF, at the recent ANDREW KASS / JIM JOE installation,
a downtown pop-up . . . titled: ‘VACANT POSSESSION.
which ran JAN 28 – FEB 4, 2017.

hmmm, Vacant Possession . . to Perennial Shadows, and back again, NO DOUBT !!!!!!


I first really noticed TOMMY MALEKOFF, at his first pop-up NYC screening, which took place just about a year ago, FEB 20, 2016.
the short film was called, ‘THE OUTDOOR WORLD’, and it blew me – away.

check out the artlovers review: TOMMY MALEKOFF – ‘THE OUTDOOR WORLD’ (2016)

musician, composer, & DJ JOE WILLIAMS . . .
who writes & produces the original music for Tommy Malekoff’s films.
at the pop-up screening of ‘THE OUTDOOR WORLD’, Feb 20, 2016. Lower East Side, NYC.


A LOVE – SUPREME . . . !!!!!

YES . . . !!!!!

I caught the new, and totally engrossing . . JOHN COLTRANE DOCUMENTARY – ‘CHASING TRANE’, directed by JOHN SCHEINFELD on the very last night of the superb DOC NYC 2016 FESTIVAL – last Thursday.

totally wonderful experience, the film’s director, JOHN SCHEINFELD attended & we, the enraptured audience . . had the intimate opportunity to hear many sweet stories from behind-the-scenes & to have many of the powerful, inspiring & esp spiritual moments of this talented, beyond-the-beyond ‘spiritual’ man’s life & music journey – brought even closer to us.

the film brings the music and the man to life – what more can you say.
a film that fills the venue with Coltrane’s music, richly accompanied by many many archival clips, even some . . just found . . early color (8MM?) DIY home movies. a long lost old recording studio clip, many various voice-overs, and profound, seriously: inserts/clips of the few surviving jazz era musicians, who knew and played with John Coltrane – were among my personal fave.

to help ‘tell’ the story, DENZEL WASHINGTON reads emotionally – from old John Coltrane interviews (which had been published in magazines throughout the years) . . as if he were the ghost come back. and then, there were some surprises. some very moving, archival, black & white video . . of when John Coltrane, and his ‘deep waters’ / wife ALICE COLTRANE, went to Japan on tour – and stopped in Nagasaki to honor the victims of the horrific atomic bombings.
and even fast forward, an amazing snippet . . of: one-helluva-crazy . . ‘super fan’ in Japan, today.
does this movie ‘catch the Trane’ – no doubt about it.
as much as a man of this stature, can be . . caught.
it tells the story, and it plays . . the music.

notably, the film also features JOHN COLTRANE inspired / illustration / artwork by RUDY GUTIERREZ, who to my total absolute delight was sitting right . . behind me !!

on the left: JOHN SCHEINFELD, veteran documentarian (The U.S vs. John Lennon), Director of ‘Chasing Trane’ – who weaves together a visual & truly spiritual portrayal . . of the music and the man.
at the right: veteran Jazz musician, JIMMY HEATH, aka ‘Little Bird’. his cameos in the film are just so off-the-cuff profound, wise and smooth – as to be some of the most memorable ‘living’ moments in the film.
also not to forget: Jimmy’s super snazzy, but low-key style: that hidden front-buttoned, gray shirt, oh my.
JIMMY HEATH: so vibrant, yet calm. handsome. Soho ‘minimalism’- on point . . !!
this man has had some life, and the strength of inner soul – to prove it.

THOM POWERS, the Artistic Director of DOC NYC.
see: DOC NYC

RUDY GUTIERREZ . . . artist.

I had noticed Mr. Gutierrez, earlier that evening, when I was standing in line to enter the SVA theatre. he seemed really super-charged and very dynamic. animated. my inner radar went: ping. so when John Scheinfeld, said the artist who had contributed the drawings at the beginning of the film, was in the audience, & gave him a shout out, & asked him to stand up, to much applause – I turned around and there he was, same guy. right behind me. indeed, I got a little spooked.

backtrack slightly: Mr.Scheinfeld, besides using words & interviews, historic photographic footage – and most of all . . plenty of the music itself !!
to get across John Coltrane’s infinite musical ‘universe’ – esp as the music evolved, also tries using visual ‘art’ to engage the viewer more fully with the music. the film opens with the infinite cosmos, the stars and skies. and then at some point Mr. Gutierrez’s raw and powerful drawings, with their African American roots & free-form, sensuous vitality – are called into play.

spiritual, rambling, rolling, evocative – they have the feel & visual depth of black folk-telling, ‘outsider’ art, & ancient/contemporary woodblock design, the influence of the great Black Panther artist – Emory Douglas ? in a word: cultural illustration at its best. they hold in their fluid lines, and honey gold colors the inherent celebration of our country’s black roots / soul, blues and jazz. slavery, gospel, spiritual heartful-ness. America – the whole damn mess & the once invisible, black African cultural attainment – coming forth, poring forth painfully, and yet ultimately: joyfully . . just as John Coltrane’s music surely did. and does.

the colors of these paintings are not just the color of so-called ‘folk art’ but they are radiant, like colored glass. truly: the light they cast is radiant, like that of a stained glass window, in a church.
stained glass windows . . in the Cathedral of Jazz.


I don’t want to get too into it, but Coltrane’s music is not just for / or a case for: the ‘initiated’. plenty of the participants, like the wonderful showman / philosopher CORNEL WEST . . knew Coltrane’s life well, and ‘got’ the intent of the music . . but, as he himself readily admitted, Mr. West could not fully ‘fly’ with the sound / that is, some of the initiated, people who loved & admired Coltrane, just could not fully let go & do the free-fall, follow the musical stream of conscious / while others – who might not know his whole life story at all – barely had words for the rapture they felt on just, just: hearing the music.
the art of Rudy Gutierrez danced to the music – and, hopefully opened a sensory pathway.

JOHN COLTRANE – SCREEN GRAB from the trailer

go to the film’s official website . . ‘CHASING TRANE – The John Coltrane Documentary’ . . scroll down a bit & watch the trailer !!

RUDY GUTIERREZ, “John Coltrane, Divided Soul’, 2011.
Acrylic and crayon on board. 25.5 x 40 in.
image courtesy: the artist

RUDY GUTIERREZ, ‘Slavery, Blues, Church and Jazz’, 2011.
Acrylic, collage, mixed media on board. 30 x 40 in.
image courtesy: the artist

unless otherwise noted.


~’MEN GO TO BATTLE’ . . conjuring up the Ghosts of the sad American story

tomorrow, THURS JULY 13, 2016 . .
is the last day you can catch ‘MEN GO TO BATTLE’ at the Anthology Film Archives, here in NYC. the film then travels to Los Angeles, and eventually it will land on Netflix, where I’m sure it will become a huge sleeper hit.
People will be watching it, every Thanksgiving.


with a shout-out to the entire crew. gorgeous production, haunting sound, beautiful acting, deep not wordy screenplay, and really . . the cinematography – thank you BRETT JUTKIEWICZ !!
. . . for an indie film, wow.

last week was so heavy, with sad events in the life-blood of this country, apparently ‘civil war’ and the ‘slavery/black/white’ issue have still not been resolved, even though the Civil War took place over a century and a half ago, and brought 1/3 of all the country’s men to their death . . . that I felt I caught a really lucky break, first to be able to act upon the great reviews this sweet young film received in the mainstream press and then, even luckier . . to have the director ZACHARY TREITZ show up, unannounced . . and bring along as well – the 2 lead actors: TIM MORTON and DAVID MALONEY.
my heart stopped beating during the film, and my imagination froze to watch the Q & A in person, up close and personal, afterwards.

‘Men Go To War’ . . Conjuring Up The Ghosts of the Civil War, Wall Street Journal. July 6, 2016.

this film is a unique take on the Civil War. yes, it is a war ‘capture’ . . . but even more so, it is a peephole look into the heart of the maelstrom as seen through the eyes of 2 struggling Kentucky farmer brothers. when you are later informed that the director, Zachary Treitz, and the 2 lead actors, David Maloney and Tom Morton, all grew up in Kentucky, you understand why this small indie feature speaks – with such a deep, and authentic voice.

the film, in fact is the inverse of all the action-driven civil war projects you may have seen . . which doesn’t diminish the horror and sadness, but perhaps brings it closer to home. from the very first frames, the brilliant intense sun on the fields, and one man walking, your heart begins to skip beats, as you realize you are entering new cinematic territory. this film is just so intense and so hazy, just like that sun. I want to say it’s ‘new age’, a ‘millennial’ take: ‘hipsters’, ‘artists’, ‘friends’, locals’ . . going back for another deeper look – but, only to alert you to the power and newness of the filmmaking, itself. the story is timeless. but everything in this film is . . close up. singular. silent. and yet still – rewarding. fulfilling, unfolding, and ultimately, moving.


equally powerful, one film is a young, low budget unknown director production, the other as you know: huge $$$. the American landscape, the sun, the trees, the earth itself of this young sweet passionate land . . loom just as large, if not larger . . than the greed, violence, hope, dreams, family love/bonds . . that are used to tell the tale of times – not so long ago.

while ‘THE REVENANT’ indulges in great action & fight scenes, a big budget helps – ‘MEN GO TO WAR’ narrows in on the singular exposure that implodes one brother & sets the other on a very different path, a low budget helps in that, narrow defining . . . too, truth be told. but both films focus on family ‘bonds’, in one case of a father and his half-breed son, and in the other two hard-scrabble farmer brothers . . and use them to show . . what went asunder. what got lost, what kind of terrible growing pains, and biases – and struggle to survive and beat out the other – this country shuddered under, on a very personal scale. in the face of the broader history.
and yet, still . . where are we ?

ZACHARY TREITZ, the young filmmaker behind ‘MEN GO TO BATTLE’.

what can you say, what could be more heart-stopping than to hear an intense, and not least of all innovative filmmaker, who has absolutely captured a dramatic moment in the nation’s collective history . . . and who has just won the TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL – BEST NEW NARRATIVE DIRECTOR AWARD, with his film . . . say hi, and start quietly introducing his film. a young man, who looks out at you, the way he will never be able to from the Netflix platform, and wonders . . . if you will get it ?
will his story unfold, will his film . . travel ?

I couldn’t help thinking of the first time I encountered & was able to catch a photo of the incredibly talented ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ INARRITU, in the Fall of 2003, at a Julian Schnabel opening, when he was also a young filmmaker wondering if his films would travel. he still wasn’t big in the press, even though ’21 Grams’ had just opened, and he had won a Best Film Drama, Golden Globes award the night before – for ‘Babel’.
that was, what .. 13 years ago ? and of course he swept the Oscars with ‘The Revenant’. such a powerful piece of filmmaking. and here stood this young director, just the same way. so passionate, so driven, so wondering.
like I said, the great . . inversion.
see: ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ INARRITU/artlovers archive

TIM MORTON (Henry Mellon), DAVID MALONEY (Francis Mellon) and their Director, ZACHARY TREITZ.

I read that ZACHARY TREITZ is now a New York City based writer and director, and I believe he said that the two lead actors were also now NYC based, but that originally they all hailed from Kentucky. so put that in your pipe, and smoke it. that’s so deep, what can you say in a sentence. it’s liking taking one of those old Appalachian Civil War era, patchwork farm quilts, that jump up for a few frames in the movie . . . stitching it up, making it whole again – and sleeping in it, which I do.
the story, and the story-telling . . is in their blood. Mr. Treitz even related . . that his ancestors were on the same trajectory of the successful Small family / Small’s Corner . . . that was depicted in the film, who also had everything taken away by the land burning / men maiming Civil War, and had to go back to the log cabin that their ancestors had first homesteaded in.

DAVID MALONEY plays Francis Mellon, the older brother.

he looks in person just like he looks in the film, a ‘local’. a wise-cracker, fire-cracker, hard working striver. he reminded of nothing so much as (former New York City) gallerist BILL BRADY. in looks, and in his Kansas City drawl, and easy ways, and the climb. the big climb . . up.


oh lord, yes. I was actually going to call this essay, THE TRIFECTA Of KNIFE GAMES, lol but I couldn’t remember if the defining deadly blows in ‘THE REVENANT’ were by blade or bullet. though I know a lot of steel was flashed. but . . if you caught the first installment of HBO’s fabulous ‘The Night Of’ . . . the knife game that Civil War era Francis plays on Henry, (and which sets the whole narrative re the Smalls and the future Francis Mellon marriage – in motion) . . . is focused on a very unlucky, but very probable, and not accidental !! knife wound to his bro Henry’s hand / and ego . . . is very eerily reminiscent of the future world of America, NYC after 9-11, a sinister urban disaster just waiting to happen to the wonderful young actor, RIZ AHMED . . as Queens ‘resident’ and would-be hipster partier/cabbie . . Nasir “Naz” Khan, who he gets his hand sliced in a knife game – gone wrong too.

TIM MORTON as Henry Mellon, image via WALL STREET JOURNAL.

this was the character I struggled to understand. maybe that’s a metaphor for THE WHOLE DAMN TIME.
it’s not the dominant bro, Francis whose path the film follows, it’s Henry’s. even though it seemed at the beginning, he might be the smarter of the two, or at least about money and mules !! or two are always better than one. his bro, the taller and perhaps older Francis gets increasingly aggressive with frustration, and out of hand, and stabs him in the hand . . in a knife game. which sets him in motion to being rejected by the rich town daughter and so, humiliated, both by wound, sibling rivalry, and girl .. and, plus the farm ain’t going nowhere anyways, he sets off for the Civil War. he just gets increasingly dumb-ed down and zoned out by the horror and loneliness, but then . . he gets smart again (lucky?) (well he wakes up intact under a mighty pile of dead young soldiers) and, when he comes back, sees his bro married (to the girl who rejected him) steals some dough $$$, from a squeaky wooden dresser in the ole cabin . . and rightfully so !! and sets off again, hopefully . . for happier adventures.
but, you just don’t know, because he seems kind of . . well, wounded.
you know: the walking dead.
as American as apple pie.

ghost army.
los dead boys.




PHOTOS: NANCY SMITH, ‘MEN GO TO BATTLE’ screening, Anthology Film Archives, NYC. Sun July 10, 2016.
unless otherwise noted.


‘TROUBLEMAKERS: The Story of Land Art’ (2015) – A FILM BY JAMES CRUMP

ATTN: ALL ARTISTS, DESIGNERS, ART HISTORY BUFFS, ART STUDENTS, COLLECTORS, FILMMAKERS & FANS, you need to do everything within your power to see this film. it’s available commercially via popular digital venues, and will also be shown on AMERICAN MASTERS, on PBS in early 2017.

It played recently in NYC for like 3 weeks, and it did not get the buzz it needed to get the crowds out – and, I missed it, but luckily I was able to catch it after all, last week at a small screening at THE APARTMENT by The Line, in Soho, NYC

amazing. ground-breaking, literally.
game changer. rule breaker & setter of the record straight, this full-length documentary is vivid, and more alive than you might think, Land Art having been over for awhile now.
or, so you thought.

JAMES CRUMP, with Stephanie Murg, Editor, THE APARTMENT by The Line, NYC.

JAMES CRUMP, filmmaker, curator, and art historian (!!) wrote, produced and directed this gem of a documentary. Not only is the full length film engaging and factual, but it really revisits the era, both the exhibits, and the popular artist ‘watering holes’ in New York and Europe, at the time, but mostly focuses on the American Southwest, where these projects took shape . . and more importantly, instead of just repeating the mainstream ‘script’ it actually digs deeper, and totally sets the record straight.

based on the visual strength of the film, and with it’s new ‘eyeballs’ . . . unearthing layers of new, and/or over-looked characters and information. I’m betting on a big wave of renewed interest in the subject, for sure.
with this film, history is being re-written, and all . . for the better.
somehow, against all odds . . the real talent, always outs.

it was also, thank you to THE APARTMENT, a very special opportunity to get even more behind-the-scenes info from JAMES CRUMP personally, who was there at the small screening and did an enchanting Q&A.
about . . the making of film, its subjects, its priorities, and quite a few other random, but golden tidbits did scatter.

name one: re VIRGINIA DWAN, the chic & prescient gallerist/art dealer, who offers a living first person narration to the film, and who supported these guys back in the day . .
“she was a ‘3M’ heiress, and had all the money in the world to do it”.
3M, translate as . . scotch tape, bye the way.


so turns out a relatively unknown MICHAEL HEIZER is the true star of this film, and of Land Art. it took over 30 years for this truth to be brought to light, and this is solely because of James Crump & this film. and that, in a brief few words, is the summation of the utter game-changing, and deepest importance of this film.

besides making a no-brainer platform for Michael Heizer, which included taking new and extensive photographic documentation, which speaks for itself / Heizer himself is the archetypal American rebel/cowboy – a man of few words, the film also delves into why HEIZER missed out on the mainstream spotlight: he was considered ‘tempermental’, and more importantly he didn’t like or encourage the use of ‘photography’, to get his work ‘out there’. he also, unlike all the other so-called Land Artists, was the only one who actually lived out there, in the desert. he did not network in the bars, duh. yeah, turns out all the others were NYC-based, and only went out to their remote desert sites to ‘make’ their art, & then of course, return promptly with the photographs to prove, and promote it.
though this was ‘supposed’ to be in theory, (I guess) . . ‘art outside the gallery’.

but, from all the first person accounts of the time offered up in the film, it’s pretty clear that to those on the inside track, MICHAEL HEIZER was the ‘man’.
but hey, nobody was going to give up their Artforum cover . . to him.
what else is new ?

HEIZER was not only a hardcore, truly underground loner, but he was also a kick-ass, redneck bad-ass rebel, an all American cowboy. as American as they come. they say in the film, that he greeted the few visitors who made it out to visit him, with a pointed rifle.

But, VIRGINIA DWAN totally got him, and so does JAMES CRUMP.
if Land Art – is truly to be recognized as verifiable. indelible ‘landmark’ art history, it will be because James Crump made this film. Heizer’s projects, and life take on a trajectory very different from the rest of the more ‘established’ Land Art crew, whose primary focus seems to have been ‘academic/conceptual’, and whose main intent seemed to have been . . getting into the ‘books’, climbing the gallery ladders, and selling pre-packaged dirt, err I mean . . work.

which is probably why so many following generations of artists, who didn’t know about Heizer, found ‘Land Art’, played out. strong>dated, and in truth, lame. I know I did. it was supposed to be . . outside the system ? nobody took it seriously, except the usual . . mainstream jerks. it was packaged, patterned dirt, and sold through the same old same old. give me a break.

also, before you get too carried away by the thought of an ‘unschooled’ cowboy carving out the desert – in the name of art, NOT. the film circles back at some point, to tell us Heizer’s dad was a professional archaeologist who took his young son with him on his many digs, at important ancient / monument sites, I think Egypt. South America ? I was so transfixed by this time, cinematic information was just flying all around me, that I was living ‘inside’ the sensory spell of the film, so to speak, as opposed to minutely recording it. but the deep roots of Heizer’s drive to create land ‘monuments’ just doubled up . . with the film’s archival snippets of his early travels . . with his dad.

MICHAEL HEIZER, ‘Double Negative’, somewhere in the Southwest desert, USA. 1978.

MICHAEL HEIZER, hauling desert dirt.

some folks in the audience were asking James Crump – where is land art now ? is there land art now ?
I think one of the reasons for the current ‘lack of’ . . might be that today you just can’t take a dump truck out into the desert, and do that.

I mean you have Burning Man, now. you have Joshua Tree. and you have VIHLS, lol.
you have the young SEAN VEGEZZI. both of whose art projects might better be classified as ‘urban’ desert – Land Art.

also our 21st century ethos . . would be to ‘conserve’, not carve up.
to photograph, film, manipulate digitally perhaps, but certainly not to carve into, our top goal . . is to not leave ‘footprints’. let alone dump truck – tracks.
which makes Heizer’s world, and his ‘monuments . . even more special, and visionary – in my eyes.
don’t blink.

MICHAEL HEIZER and friends . . kicking up that desert dust.

of course kicking up dust is an American rebel cowboy’s dream – and, guess what – they still do it.
just check out the work of JIM MANGAN, and his book: ‘BLAST’. in fact if ‘rural’ land art lives on, as opposed to ‘urban’ wasteland/infrastucture art – it would be in the hands of contemporary artists like . . PETER SUTHERLAND and JIM MANGAN, both with roots in the deserts of Utah and Colorado.

VIRGINIA DWAN, the 3M heiress who made it all happen, esp on such a large scale.

if she isn’t a household word, she sure gonna be an art world mega-legend, now. after this film.
glamorous, 70s chic, and as copper-penny brilliant – as the artists she bankrolled, exhibited and collected. she’s still alive, and offers up priceless personal knowledge, opinions, and insight – as the film rolls on.

and roll on it does. ‘TROUBLEMAKERS’ is one those rare films, that circle back and forth, eddying around different bits of subtext. it is not strictly chronological, but delivers up info like a small pool of weaving water. leaving you afterwards to wonder at the seamless creative editing, & fluid story-telling.


LAWRENCE WEINER . . also provides a lot of the ‘been there-done that’ oral history for the film.
wow, I never knew that . . that he had his roots in Land Art. of course his reputation, already renown, is going to shoot up, double-up now, too.

WILLOUGHBY SHARP . . in the early 70s.

and, oh my . . who knew WILLOUGHBY SHARP, had once been so cute, so young, and at the very forefront of the Land Art movement – with his, what we would call today, a zine . . the independently published & forward pushing . . ‘AVALANCHE”. who knew, Willoughby Sharp was Land Art’s truest poet , and first voice.

you have to give profound credit to JAMES CRUMP, not only for putting MICHAEL HEIZER on the Land Art mainstream map, but ditto in his own ‘reverse – prescient’ . . tracking for Willoughby Sharp.

if only I had known this back in the 80s and 90s, when I would see him around the East Village all the time, and just thought he was a crusty worn-out, worn-down dude. in fact – he was a hero, who got beat by the game, hey Artforum is NOT going to give credit to the true movers and groovers, let alone say: hey, Willoughby saw it first !! wrote about it first.
tell me about it !! damn !! my life flashes before me, and it’s not such a pretty picture, the word bitterness – comes to mind. so does under-recognized, and broke.

plus, I would have been all over him, “can I take your picture ? can I visit your studio ? apartment, whatever” !!

how Willoughy’s hard-core, all too true story un-spools, and rings so true, if not for you, James Crump: it breaks my heart.

well, so you can’t move that desert earth by the truckloads anymore, but Willoughy, if you were still here, you could be whipping out your cellphone and showing that thinks-he-knows-it-all, twenty-something Brooklyn millennial . . a thing or too.

not to mention handing out a re-vamped ‘Avalanche’, which has just been re-leased, big time.

JAMES CRUMP, has not just written, directed and produced a wonderful documentary . . he has re-written . . history and re-told the ‘real’ grit, true grit story behind Land Art, and long may it live, now.
talent, always outs in the art world. eventually.
carve that into a desert rock, somebody.

see: JAMES CRUMP /wiki


definite, see: ‘TROUBLEMAKERS: The Story of Land Art’ – official website

DEFINITE, watch: the ‘TROUBLEMAKERS’ – trailer on YouTube

grabbed with my iPhone from the screening, except of course, for the photo of . . . JAMES CRUMP and STEPHANIE MURG, at the Q&A.
the screening was at: THE APARTMENT by The Line, Soho, NYC. MARCH 28, 2016.


DIRECTOR: ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ INARRITU, who also was a producer, and co-wrote the screenplay with MARK L. SMITH
Based in part on a novel by MICHAEL PUNKE


absolutely riveting.
talk about GREGORY CREWDSON and his ‘THE CATHEDRAL of the PINES’, this was the shocking . . DEATH & MANHUNT . . . under the tall, tall PINES.
the winter scenes add such a cold, cold visual, and cinematic heartbreak beauty – throughout.
I hope it sweeps the OSCARS tonight.

at the JULIAN SCHNABEL . . ‘New Indian Paintings & Selected Sculptures’ opening, at PaceWildenstien in Chelsea, NYC.
OCT 16, 2003.
PHOTO: NANCY SMITH – first published in artnet, editor Walter Robinson.

I had the great luck to catch Director ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ INARRITU in 2003, at a Julian Schnabel opening, way back in the Fall of 2003.
that’s 13 long, long years ago.
his film ’21 Grams’ had just opened in theaters, and ‘BABEL’ had just won the Best Film, Drama award at the Golden Globes, the very night before.

see: more pix from the Julian Schnabel, ‘Indians’ opening , NANCY SMITH – ART LOVERS NEW YORK, FALL 2003 on artnet.


~TOMMY MALEKOFF . . The Outdoor World

& running 10:17 minutes


A singularly striking, but casually unwinding, almost freestyle cinematic ode – to MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE and also, to Black life . . .
as seen through the lens of a young New Yorker.
the word: vernacular – does come to mind.

TOMMY MALEKOFF leans into his subject, like a ski jumper leans into his skies.

‘The Outdoor World’ . . is a remarkable short film on MEMPHIS, of all places.
independently made by a young New Yorker, TOMMY MALEKOFF with a hand-held camera, and not much else. okay, and – with a lot of . . verve.
it also features . . an incredible, original sound track by JOE WILLIAMS aka DJ MOTION GRAPHICS. This singularly striking ‘travelogue’ with absolutely no words, but which is metaphor-rich, for your own taking !! is just transfixing – from frame one. it’s just the way TOMMY MALEKOFF, apparently a natural behind the camera, sees the world from his own very personal & straight-forward inquisitive . . vantage point. we are one with him, in his journey behind the lens, a young artist / explorer / producer just about to burst on the scene . . with no, or not much (!!) previous history or art world baggage to hold him back.

part of the magic spell of the film, besides just how strange vernacular Memphis can be . . . esp to a New Yorker, is the rhythm, the momentum, the framing & editing . . of the visuals – which pair up so nicely with the rhythm of the sound track, so completely, so sweetly. words ? who needs words. I might be wrong, but the closest I can come to describe the way the film moves, in words . . is, it’s the visual equivalent of house / wave / beach music.
it moves real casual, but it’s very transfixing. and then there’s the music.

in its own way, the film is also about . . BLACK LIFE.

as with most cutting edge art today – it’s also about indie low-key production, but big on both content, hand-lettered info graphics & real world digital photography . . in other words: small scale / big visions. DIY spirit, individual skills, and . . making your singular voice count, within the mass web of social media that surrounds us, bombards us 24/7 & then, focusing in on our own particular location-specific . . urban experience.

as for ‘graphics’ / sometimes called graphic design:
these 2 images are from Tommy’s website.
if ‘quiet beauty’ were a catalog, a style – this would be that, and that . . would be ok.
being right on the vibe – is hard to do.
don’t take it for granted, just how striking this singular home page . . is.


TOMMY MALEKOFF, and ANDREW KASS . . at ‘The Outdoor World’ – 170 Suffolk St, Lower East Side, NYC screening.

TOMMY MALEKOFF & ANDREW KASS are key players i.e. big energy & innovative creative contributors . . among the informal swirl of the very downtown, very politically aware, ‘seed-like’ & ‘gonna be’ very influential . . openly subversive, indie rebel, creative, cutting-edge & mostly underground . . urban-based, and informally structured . . artist crew centered around curator / artist . . SEAN VEGEZZI, is the best I can put it.
you know, the guys of . . 15 WARREN ST, 170 SUFFOLK, and 34 JOEY.
again, very urban-based in outlook, as in rooted in the actual infra-structure of the city, or with regard to global politics. a general over-all dynamic, as opposed to say . . specifically sticker art, or street art per se, though the group shows I have seen obviously include a lot of street art just by the nature of how things roll indie in NYC. the key is, these guys grew up in the downtown area, and within the underground fringes of the downtown art scene, and they don’t wait for things to happen, they just throw up the shows – on their own, or hit up other indie pop-up venues, or subway stations, lol. and abandoned buildings, and let’s leave it at that.

TOMMY MALEKOFF . . seems to have been blessed, not only with a natural eye . . for the camera & in turn – indie filmmaking – but, also with the insight that it takes to inform the footage, and thus blow up a small film of 10 mins – into quite the entrancement.
quite the statement.
and, with no .. words.

JOE WILLIAMS aka DJ MOTION GRAPHICS, and of whose moniker . . we have no doubt.
motion graphics – is what this film is all about . . style-wise.
and JOE supplied the original film sound track – and it is pro, and it is brilliant.

I asked Tommy to tell me a little bit more about how the film’s music score came to be, & this is what he emailed me:

“For the score – I came to Joe with 3 songs:
‘Walking in Memphis’ by Marc Cohn, ‘Where is da Bud’ by 3 6 Mafia, and ‘I can’t help falling in love with you’, by Elvis.
Joe took the melodies from these songs and applied strings to them instead of lyrics to make a more orchestral, atmospheric sound that referenced popular songs from/about Memphis. He also used samples of noises from mosquitoes and ducks for parts of the song(s). Each segment of the video has a special song made up of these references.”

backtrack: 170 SUFFOLK appears to be a large, vacant one story floor-thru space, much like a garage. SEAN VEGEZZI and pals put up an incredible pop-up, group show there back in June, 2014.
and interestingly enough, TOMMY MALEKOFF was one the featured artists. no, he didn;t show a film, it was kind of the exact opposite of a film, he put subtle ‘trash / tracks’ throughout the space. I know – it sounds crazy, but it really gave the place some . . ‘spatial’ grit. trash from North Carolina. bye the way. Tommy seems to be into . . geography. cities.
it made the space ‘bounce’, transcend. added city infrastructure ‘narrative’ – does that say it better.
one day I have to post the pix.
maybe soon.

as if . . anything by this crew needs grit.
grit & hardcore thought – am I.
I’m up for as much grit as you can throw at me. anything, but the wall-to-wall mediocrity this town’s art scene has become, for the most part.

of course inside it is dark. it is quite huge, and wide open and beautiful. raw, but not dysfunctional, with a great bank of high windows at the back near the ceiling, bringing the city lights inside. there was just enough light to pick out ‘poster’ mages from the film.
football. hmm. the outdoor world, you just never know.

DJ DONDERO, in front of one of the ‘film’ posters – featuring the MEMPHIS PYRAMID, what a strange tourist attraction.
and that’s just how the movie starts . .
the film’s outlook is curious, more than anything, I would say.
the ‘souvenir’ site, the ‘tourists’, mainstream America, America . . the Great Mall, speaks for itself. come up with your own metaphors, they are yours – free for the taking.
form the elevator ride down, to the crocs in the water. to the history of the place itself.
there was an info sheet hand-out, (it hosted the mega-fight between LENNON LEWIS vs MIKE TYSON in in 20020) – when you entered.

the projection screen was just off to the right, the back wall.

you can see the lights & buildings of the city’s night . . just outside, through the bank of large windows at the ceiling, just above the screen. very nice, lucky random draw-of-the-straw – real estate touch.

and then the film opens.

the film begins, with an aerial shot, and we descend via elevator into the Memphis Pyramid.

at first I thought, ok . . it’s going to be an ‘extreme urban infrastructure’ take down. a walk on the wild side, illegal high storied intrusion. but it was in fact, quite the opposite.
it was like finding a home movie souvenir, by a really smart kid. and then the music kicks in & you are off and running. entranced & wondering. wtf. this was no kid. this was a master at the vernacular. vernacular photography – look it up. not quite the same as ‘found’ photography . . because Mr. Malekoff is indeed the eye behind the camera of his very own footage. . with a pictorial style . . all his own, somewhere within the genre of ‘reality’ ‘souvenir’ and ‘documentary. it’s not fiction. it’s not made-up, but it is chosen & composed. and the vibe is very very cool, very chill. the direction, the easy scope, the unobtrusiveness, yet the telling . . of the average day to day, is not average at all. trust me, I’ve seen too many film projects in my lifetime – to know. the diff.
talent is rare, but when it spools – trust me, talent . . outs.

the croc.
the Outdoor World. Memphis – style !!

the big catfish . . ?
scale, size. animals. bio. haven’t I been hearing those very words, lately ?

the ‘tiny’ minnows.
we are minnows swimming in a sea of technology, social media & information overload.
we are on the other side of that glass. whose in the outdoor world, them or us ?
and hey, that’s just what I’ve been thinking . . who is really bio these days. we are . .
we are wired. we are . . wireless. we are computer merged. we are . . mutated.
and we are under assault by the nano life of the food chain. invisible particles. viruses. the icebergs are melting, but the viruses are growing.
everything is upside down.

the chicks, the cars. The Outdoor World – Memphis style.
the world was once so – easy. maybe that’s why souvenirs are so – pleasant.

LIL RON – the indoor / outdoor world ?!! (reference footage)
fab. bio. skills.
the dancing is called . . gangsta walking. it seems to be a form of ‘bio’ competition.
no wires, but wired !! but smooth wired. and nothing . . digital. well maybe the music recorded. it’s also referred to as ‘jooking’ . . it’s a dance native to Memphis.
Memphis must be such a special place. what’s in the water ?
besides crocs and catfish ? or maybe that’s it.
even, just the songs. the Memphis blues.

B. FRANK (reference footage)

LIL BUCK (reference footage)

back inside ‘The Outdoor World’ – at 170 SUFFOLK.

the hardcore party . . life.

sure to be a player. . .

in the outdoor world of NYC . . night life.


‘The Outdoor World’ . . comes inside, and takes over . . your world.
if just for 10 mins.
you are knocked out of the water, taken deep down into the faux pyramid, and turned onto ‘jook’.
just a homemade ‘vignette’. not.
just another spectacular NYC night !! this crew never fails to knock it out of the park.
and they’re so chill – at it. the way they throw you – for a loop.
style. graphics. timing. curiosity. music. culture story-telling. slice of life documentary. the celebration of the great American vernacular. Memphis as seen by NYC.
the great American city adventure. cities are . .. us.

downtown indie filmmaker TOMMY MALEKOFF, and musician JOE WILLIAMS . . aced it.


what a great title.


ps: @andrewkass & @doublebreed is a good place to start – if you want to follow these guys.

~EMORY DOUGLAS . . The Art of the Black Panthers

always remember: ‘REVOLUTIONARY’ does NOT mean . . . terrorist.
witness our world after 9/11: terrorist equals . . FASCIST, BRUTALLY REPRESSIVE, HYPER-VIOLENT & the very anti-thesis of . . freedom, liberty, speech, art & LIFE !!

at least, that’s my take away – from the new Black Panther documentary.

my other take away – was the discovery of this artist: EMORY DOUGLAS.
I had seen his work, but wasn’t aware of the total story – Minister of Culture for the BPP, the Black Panther Party from 1967 thru 80s – his art defined a generation & then took off and became global symbols for freedom.

there is a wonderful, vivid, and profoundly informative video clip on Mr. Douglas, his historical take on the Black Panthers – and the times they rose up from, his own involvement, as well personal first person background about his art-making.

WATCH: EMORY DOUGLAS: The Art of the Black Panthers . . on VIMEO

this video was produced & directed by . . DRESS CODE out of NYC.

EMORY DOUGLAS . . is still very much around, and his work is being exhibited globally.
I’d like to see another exhibit – in NYC.
super talented, super articulate, and for all appearances well-grounded & easy going . . but very, very focused, his oral history of the BBP movement, and his own work – this video clip is a gift. to us all, and it’s al the more remarkable by its non-strident tone & the first person narration.
oral history: priceless.

his first formal foray into ‘art’ – was in a school print shop & the format of woodblock prints – made a lasting impression.

his early depiction of cops . . as PIGS standing on 2 feet – went on to transcend the Black Panther Party & became a universal symbol for the abuse of power.

his use of markers to ‘mimic’ the heavy black outlines of woodblock printing – reminded me of the very popular use of makers, ink pens, and Sharpies – today. esp among ‘sticker’ & cartoon artists. and illustrators and legions of graphic artists in general . . across the board. this is where art is today, in every sense Mr. Emory is a very much . . living artist.

his words – are just as stirring as his art.
he says: art is a LANGUAGE – and that’s why it’s so POWERFUL.


sticker art – or what ?!!!!!!!!!