Friday, December 17, 2004


Richard Serra interview with Charlie Rose

Having been an enormous admirer and follower of Serras' work for years, I would like to share this brief interview that took place in 2002. What follows is a partial transcript of the interview. Probably only the first few minutes.

RICHARD SERRA AND CHARLIE ROSE - 2002 TRANSCRIPT of Interview at Gagosian Gallery:

Q: If I went back to the very beginning of Richard Serra's life what would be the earliest thing that I found that might suggest who he is today?

A: Uh, probably a little kid walking along the beach for a couple of miles, turning around, walking back, looking at his footprints, and being amazed that what was on his right in one direction, when he reversed himself, was now on his left, and it was completely different, and it startled him and he never got over it.

Q: He was how old?

A: Four or five.

Q: Yeah, on the beach.

A: On the beach.

Q: This is San Francisco?

A: Yes.

Q: What was it? I mean, in looking back now, even though you wouldn't have captured the profundity of it at that time.

A: I think certain things stick into your claw, or stick into your imagination, and you have a need to come to terms with them. And spacial differences, what's on your left, what's on your right, what it means to walk around a curve; looking at a convexity and looking at a concavity -- just asking fundamental questions about what you don't understand, those things have always interested me.

Q: You are (don't be modest) are judged to be one of our best, if not our best sculptor. What's the connection between the talent you have, and what it was naturally that made you want to look at those footprints?

A: Curiosity, inquisitiveness, and I used to draw everyday, and I used to draw in order to please my parents, because my brother was taller and bigger and stronger, and in order to capture my affection of my parents, really, to compete with my brother, I would draw every night after dinner and my parents would encourage that drawing. So, drawing became for me another language, it became a language that was a kind of key into the world - it kind of mediated reality for me, so I've been drawing since I was four years old. And my parents encouraged it, and encouragement kind of breeds confidence.

Q: Did you have a natural talent?

A: For drawing? Yes, always. I remember when I was in the second grade, about seven years old, the teacher had my mother come to my school because she'd pasted my drawings all over the walls for everyone, for the whole school to see. It was something I had a facility for.

Q: And she said to your mother, 'look this is something that needs to be nurtured'?

A: Yes, and my mother immediately started dragging me to museums. And my mother didn't introduce me as Richard, she used to introduce me as 'Richard the artist' which I was very embarrassed by.

Q: (laughter) Yeah, this could do something to you if you're not careful.

A: No, and because of that I thought I would major in English language, and I did, I majored in English, and I thought 'drawing is something I could always do' and I would find my way into it, and eventually what happened was that I went to the University of California and I transferred to Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara was a tremendous hotbed of intellectual activity. Isherwood was there and ____, and I sent seven drawings to Yale after majoring in English literature, and Yale accepted me saying, 'we think we could teach you something.' Because I hadn't been painting up to that point. And that was the big breakthrough of my life. They made me get their undergraduate Art History degree, and then I stayed two more years and got an MFA -- an MA and an MFA.

Q: The acceptance by Yale did what.

A: Well, I was thrown into a group of students, a couple of them are still here in New York painting very well, Bryce Martin, Chuck Close, a lot of really famous people at the time, and we were all young art students from all over the country, thrown together in a very competitive atmosphere, with terrific professors and up to that point, I could take education seriously, but not that seriously

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Roommate Invertebrate

The Roommate Invertebrate

(section of a letter to Jordan, written in the converted garage that was my room and shared studio workspace in Redhook Brooklyn, Wed. 03/10/04)

So here we begin on an elliptical note. Though the word 'elliptical', should be omitted for a more appropriate word like, paroxysmal, thereby making the word 'elliptical' the most elliptic part of this ellipsoidal note. I will let it remain however in the hopes that the sum of the plane curve that this note is bound to make, will prove constant.
As I write now at my little desk, I feel an occasional tickle in the white hairs on the backs of my hands. Ants. I cannot find the source of where they are coming from or where they are going. They are not in any militant formation as per usual. Most find them in a tiny vibrating single-file line across a linoleum kitchen floor. Now they are emitting pheromones randomly, split-up, and more scavenger-like. I’ve killed 6 already in these two paragraphs of writing. I’m reminded of another time a while back. I was sitting at my little desk writing to you as I battled with a horny cricket. It sat in some non-existent corner rubbing its wings together in desperate search for a mate. It took a week of sleepless nights before I found the little bastard and tossed it in the garden. Only to be surprised by more chirping from several of his relatives. After that it was genocide.

In this little space I have been accosted by:

Spiders as big as your thumbnail, brown with a beige stripped pattern on the thorax, building sticky homes in the cracks of the walls and the open mouths of my unworn shoes. Their diminutive offspring scattering about to build homes of their own. I wiped them out with one of the very same shoes they once dwelled in.

A plague of moth/flies. These started slow around the dampness of my bookshelves. A tiny gray dot on The Trial, a whisper of a movement across Gray’s Anatomy, traces of gray dust on the jacket of Paterson. After a few days their numbers were in the hundreds. Not knowing what they were or how to get rid of them, I looked them up by way of description. The name, Moth/fly /psychoda alternata, is appropriate as they look like a cross between the two. No bigger than a match head, the female will lay up to 300 eggs at a time. As soon as a larva reaches adulthood, which is usually in a few hours, they seek out a mate, “make love”, and die. I wiped these out with a power vacuum from Home Depot, sucking dozens at a time into the bowels of the howling machine. In the end I think it was the cold weather that killed them. As spring arrives, I search for signs of their return.

The horny crickets. (Though “horny” is an appropriate term for all of the insects listed here-in, the cricket will carry its weight as, unlike the rest of the soundless arthropods, it makes its intentions irritatingly know to all creatures with ears and/or feelers as it were) No doubt the rest of these pests turned a blind eye (though the moth/fly hath no eye) to the killing of the crickets. I wiped them out with a can of Dust-Off, freezing them and then depositing them in the bus yard beyond the back wall. I found in this that, Dust-Off, has a strange effect on insects. When inhaled, the chemical released from the can into the jar somehow, I believe, sucks all the oxygen from the brain, causing visual/audio impairment, light-headedness, and an overall minor to acute brain damage. Essentially they appear to fall over in a peaceful death. “What a fantastic way to capture and kill a small insect while keeping his shiny black exo-skeleton perfectly intact, feelers and all, to use for further study in my drawing experiments!” thought I to myself, cold can in one hand, jar of cricket in the other. Alas, this is what happened; after blasting a noisy cricket with a white, scentless shot of Dust-Off, he became instantly silent, paralyzed, dead-seeming. I dropped his body in a jar and placed it on my shelf of other experiments for later observation. That night, (several hours had gone by) I woke from a strange dream (I was playing tether-ball in an empty play ground lot, getting hit repeatedly in the back of the head by the ball as it swung round from my punches), to the distinct sound of, chirp chirrp…chirp chirrp... I climbed down my bed ladder and switched on the lamp. Sure enough, the cricket was up, walking the jars circumference good as new, rubbing those filthy wings in utter delight. Baffled, I shot a spray of the Dust-Off into the jar putting him back to sleep so that I too could climb back into my bed. In the morning I could feel him staring at me, mocking me with his cries. I set him free.
And now the ants will come a marchin in, hurrah! They will be easily dealt with. They are sporadic, despondent. There is no food down here, no water. They are without their Queen, without their system. They are as good as dead.
Enough about my roommates for now... To complete the curve one may say that there was in fact no curve what so ever. The two fixed points are there, the sum is balanced, however the note in and of itself ran linearly, A to B counteracting the intensions of the ellipsis altogether. Though in this final closing paragraph one would see that the over-all hypothesis of elliptical thought and/or writing has in fact proved constant within the last paragraph itself. Joining the locus points of A and B, the sum of the distances of each of which from two fixed points is the same constant. Omitting all, omitting nothing.

Friday, December 10, 2004


The Pines

"Pines are recognized by their resinous wood and their needle-like leaves which are found in bundles of 1 to 5 and enclosed at base in a papery sheath which may be, sooner or later, deciduous.
The male flower is a long catkin usually grouped with several others on a terminal twig. Each cluster of stamens is surrounded at base by 3 to 6 scales. When ripe the anthes are bright yellow with abundant, buoyant pollen. The female flowers, found on last year's shoots, form short thick catkins furnished with papery bracts which soon disappear, and larger persistent fleshy scales which become the woody scales in the mature cone. At flowering time the scales of the female conelet open wide and recieve the wind-borne pollen.
When pollinated, they close again and do not open until the seed is ripe, or in some cases until years afterward. About one year after pollination, fertilization takes place within the ovules, and the conelet, which has changed little till now, begins a period of rapid growth. The exposed tip of each cone scale is usually more or less thickened and shows the apex of the first season's growth in a scar or protuberance which is frequently provided with a prickle and transversely ridged with a keel."

"This would seem a poor method (seeds fall to the ground in autumn) of distribution, but there is at hand a vicarious one. For hosts of Clark nutcrackers come every year, with their harsh, rolling cries of churrrr, churrr.
With mighty beaks these gray crows thrash open the green cones and extract the seeds."
Donald Culross Peattie

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Fledgling: Posted by Hello
graphite on paper


The Finch

The heritability of bigger brain structures in beauteous bouncing birds and the basis of sexual selection due to a better sung song, are recent peculiar interests of mine.

As a recent owner of a pair of Zebra Finches, I have been fascinated by the way they function and communicate, and especially with Werthers' (the male) song. A tinny peeping that fluctuates, usually from a happy springy feeling, to times when he sounds down right pissed off.
As a possibly cruel (though I don’t think so) experiment, I recorded Werthers' singing and occasionally play it back for him. He becomes overly excited, mockingly jumping from perch to perch in, I would guess, a competitive agitation (Charlotte is a beauty after all).
I have this recording on quick rewind and play-back so I’ll play the different (I believe there are 3) variations of the song and surprisingly he, more often than not, responds with the same version as the one played, but seemingly louder, faster and continuous, sometimes over and over, always outdoing the recording of himself.
Charlotte doesn’t seem to notice much of this; I believe she’s preoccupied these days with the nest he’s building in the seed dish.

No doubt the fact that I am currently dealing with the communication and speech/song development in the fledglings of both finch and human these days would account for the sudden interest.
Yesterday on my drive home I heard this incredibly interesting story on NPR that I thought I would share with whoever might be reading this. If you were listening to NPR yesterday, I apologize.
I am going to post my experiments and findings as often as they occur even though I realize I sound like an old lady talking about her birds.

"An elaborate bird song is like a Grand Cherokee in the driveway or an M.D. after the name - a kind of shorthand for all the desirable qualities that a female wants in a mate and wants passed along to the children," said Timoth DeVoogd, professor of psychology and neurobiology and behavior at Cornell.
"Of course these birds are not scholars of evolutionary theory. They don't think Darwin's principle of sexual selection when they make up their minds about which male sings best."

However their choices have an impact on their parenting success, and how they will survive for generations to come.
Apparently, males with the most elaborate songs have bigger brains, a larger HVC (high vocal center) according to Cornell research. And the neurobiologists are intrigued by the fact that the larger brain structures are inherited.
Females consistently choose males with more elaborate songs, though
it has baffled scientists how a female can pick up on the difference between a 38 note song and a 40 note song in just a few minutes.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Fig. 6: Peculiar Dorsal Vertebrae Posted by Hello
graphite on paper

Monday, December 06, 2004

Two Women: india ink: 1996 Posted by Hello


The Milktrees

"These trees are characterized by their leathery, evergreen, simple and alternate leaves and milky sap.The sexes are found in separate flowers on the same plant, each with 2 calyx lobes and no petals. The male flowers, borne in terminal spikes, possess 2 stamens of which the filaments are united at base; the female flowers, solitary or paired at the base of the male spikes, possess a 2-celled ovary. The fruit takes the form of a dry capsule containing large, nearly spherical seeds."

"The Pima Indians used to stupefy fish by macerating the twigs of this tree (JUMPINGBEAN-TREE; Sapium Biloculare (Watson) Pax), then throwing them into the water."
"The name
Jumpingbean comes from the fact that this is one of two sorts of seeds which are commonly inhabited by the restless grubs of the moth Carpocapsa saltitans. In their saltations they cause the pods to roll and jerk-to the delight of small boys who buy them at fairs."
Donald Culross Peattie: TREES

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Waxing Gibbous

“How difficult it is to speak of the moon and not lose one’s head, the witless moon. It must be her arse she shows us always.” 1

Recently, my 17 month old niece (no relation, though practically) Isabella, daughter of my good friends Jordan (see: Growing Nation) and Marlee Stempleman, has begun to form words and with them, their meanings. On a Thanksgiving road trip to Mexico, one of the only things to satiate the child (she absolutely hates car rides) was to point out the window at the hovering desert moon and say, “moon, Bella…look at the moon.” We all took turns doing this to quell, however briefly, her piercing screams.
Since then she has become obsessed with the moon, running frantically about saying, “moo..moo..moo..moo” whether it’s visible or not, as though she were its astounded discoverer, as she indeed was.
A few days ago she and I went for one of our many walks. As soon as we stepped outside she began, “moo…moo…moo” I gently corrected her saying “Well Bell, the moon is only visible at night, right now, it’s the sun that’s in the sky, we’ll look for the moon tonight.” We continued down the dirt path near the house, pointing out various cacti, birds and lizards, of which she cared little next to the moon. Returning home she began again “moo…moo” this time pointing to the sky. Sure enough, there it was, a waxing gibbous, pale faced and pondering, a mocking smirk on its face. I stood there squinting shamefully to the sky as she convulsed with excitement in my arms, pointing and announcing to the world, that she had in fact been right all along.
And so, in her honor I have decided to share in her obsession.
Tacitus, reported that nearly 2000 years ago, ancient German communities held their meetings at new or full moon. “The seasons most auspicious for beginning business.”
The New moon is celebrated from Ancud, Chile to Nuuk, Greenland.
One can imagine African Bushmen in a heaving dance, chanting praise to the symmetry of it all. Eskimos feasting and exchanging women, all with the moon spinning loftily above.
“Moonstruck”, “moonshine”, “lunacy” and "moonwalk", all meanings derived from the large reflective basaltic rock in the sky.
Its face etched out 3.9 billion years ago2
by the impacts of debris left over from the solar systems formation are recognized through human eyes, as the rolling sockets, bulbous nose, and open mouth of a man.
Serving as the primitive measurer of time, from the Babylonians to the Jews, the Christians to the Muslims, lunar calendars have (though frequently altered and sometimes abandoned over the ages) held to tradition. The Christian world has taken on the Julian, or Gregorian calendar, after Julius Caesar, Copernicus, and the ancient Egyptians.
Islam However continues to live strictly by the cycles of the moon as dictated by the Koran and the words of the prophet Muhammad. Many Muslims hold to the traditionally accepted utterance of Muhammad, “Do not fast until you see the new moon, and do not break the fast until you see it; but when it is hidden from you [by mist or cloud] give it its full measure.” So the beginning and the end of Ramadan are observed at different times in certain villages, if clouds or mist prevent the new moon from being seen. A hotly debated issue in Islam marking the modern revolts against tradition.
“The cycles of the moon had an uncanny correspondence with the menstrual cycle of woman, because a sidereal month, or the time required for the moon to return to the same position in the sky, was a little less than 28 days, and a pregnant woman could expect her child after ten of these moon-months.”3

In lore and literature, movies and comics, a full moon means werewolves and pagan rituals, human sacrifice and generalized insanity. Even now, if something seems off kilter, maybe the events of a day are unusual, or the moods of strangers seem flighty and strange, if there is a full moon in the sky you can be sure it will catch the blame of astrologers and non-believers alike.
As a teenager my friends and I would, though possibly on a subconscious level, celebrate (in our own angst ridden destructive ways) the moon. Drug induced wanderings over city streets, sprinting across pale glowing golf courses, perched smoking on headstones in vast cemeteries, all with the ever-present orb overhead. I recall stumbling drunkenly through a moonlit midwestern forest after learning of a friends deceit with a woman, howling and screaming at the glaring moon, that big therapist beyond the branches.

"And hail their queen, fair regent of the night." 4

1 Samuel Beckett: Molloy, pgs 256. 257
2 National Audubon Society: The Sun and the Moon
3 The Discoverers: Daniel J. Boorstin
4 Botanic Garden (pt. I, canto II, l. 90): Erasmus Darwin

Friday, December 03, 2004


The Alders

"The Alders have close and astringent bark, and bear very straight veined, toothed, broad, deciduous, alternate and simple leaves and few scaled or naked buds. The flowers, in unisexual catkins, expand with or before the leaves (in our speicies) but make their first appearance in bud during the preceding season. The male catkins are pendulous, the individual floret with 4-parted calyx and 2 to 4 stamens, subtended by two small bracts. The female flowers, which are borne erect in a conelet, have no calyx, but each ovary is subtended by 2 to 4 minute bracts and surmounted by 2 styles. After fertilization the conelet ripens into a little open cone-like structure (strobile) with woody scales from which are released the seed-like little nuts with thin wing-like borders."

"As slim as young Birches, as cool as broad Beeches, as tall, sometimes, as 60 or even 80 feet high, the Alders form delicious groves, with the tinkling of the streams forever making music."
Donald Culross Peattie: TREES

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Exceptional Entomology

Fet's Soliloquizing:
Afanasy Afanasevich Fet

Whence have I come and whither am I hasting

Do not inquire;

Now a graceful flower I have settled

And now respire.

The Lepidopterist kept thinking while wiping the fine blue pollen from his hands to his shirt 'I am going to miss these dusty old books.'
Stacks of them were lined up against the walls, within their covers, thousands of tissue like wings tucked under cellophane.
It was a critical time for the plump little sleepy man. Nothing now to look forward to but old Rorschach and the endless zools awaiting him.


The Elders [the first of many tree b...logs]

"The Elders are shrubby little trees with soft-pithy twigs and opposite, long-stalked, compound leaflets. Small, regular, and perfect, the blossoms are borne in profuse, broad, branched clusters on the ends of the twigs. The minute calyx is 3- to 5-lobed, as is the flat little corolla on which are borne the 5 stamens. The ovary is at least partly inferior and is capped by the thick 3- to 5-lobed style. The fruit is berry like, with bright, thin, shiny, succulent flesh, and nuttles filled by the seed."
" The California Indians called it the "tree of music", for of it they made their flutes, and the flute was the instrument of the Indian when he went courting."
Donald Culross Peattie: TREES

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

A Mysterious Absence of Fish

After growing older, poorly scarred, strange adults will wind their watches. In the doggerel that is scattered about, there may be smiles left to unfurl. A motif for the ridged . The persistent snickering rodents seem to do. And all that is selected and cast aside. In the books it was evident, we were but a palaver away. The cirri sway and then turn in the depths. In the is evident...we are but a palaver away. Though the tide pools are swimming. With the plots now barren, and thickening in the sun, a mysterious absence of fish.

Inventory of coins

Inventory of coins, 2000.
Dave the Green mans apartment,
leaving the lower east side.
(collecting and counting all goods and possessions to attempt an escape)

Pennies: 2.70
Nickels: 7.95
Dimes: 9.60

Pennies: .50
Nickels: 1.85
Dimes: 2.60
Quarters: 3.00

The Palmist

New York 1999

Tompkins Square Park. No luck with jobs, not really trying…. met a man named------ironically I can’t remember as he kept telling me what it was. From New Orleans, drunk, friendly palm reader, owned a gallery, got shut down. He said he didn’t have to read my palm, that he could read my eyes. Said to take it one step at a time, literally, as in across the street. Slapped me on the shoulder and left to get booze for his friends who were flagging him on from the park.
Uruguay tango. El Choclo Rene Marino
Erik Satie – gymnopedes
Telemans – recorder suite in A minor
Cha Chou regional opera
Bai Lixi Reunites with his wife

Interview with: Erik Satie

Erik Satie, A Mammal's Notebook.
(as translated by Antony Melville)
(please select the links below, and continue to read with musical accompaniment)

Dried Embryos

1. Of Holothuria

Vulgarly known as "sea
cucumber." Holothuria generally
climbs on stones or pieces of rock.
Like the cat, this animal purrs; it also
spins a revolting kind of silk. The
action of light seems to upset it. I
observed an Holothuria in Saint-
Malo bay.

Out in the morning. It is raining.
The sun is in the clouds.
Little purr. What a pretty rock!
It is nice to be alive.
Like a nightingale with
Back home in the evening. It is
The sun is not there any more.

As long as it never comes back.
Mocking little purr.
It was a really good rock. Nice
and sticky.
Don't make me laugh, bit of
foam: you are tickling me.
I haven't any tobacco.
Lucky I don't smoke.


February 1912
Interviewers note:
I was on assignment in the late winter of 1912 to speak with the great Satie, a hero of mine, about his latest masterpiece. True I was aware of his eccentricities, so shaking off my umbrella, I stepped into his flat on the Rue de Siene without knowing at all what to expect. What follows is the brief but illuminating interview.

[The questions are primarily based on material from Satie's most recent publication Deux Preludes pour un chien (Two preludes for a Dog), for piano.]

RM: Would you say something about your early musical training and tastes? I was amused to read that, at one time, you had hoped to devote your life to playing the works of Debussy.

ES: In this, I was well in advance of him. Until I had found that like a picnic, they had all brought very cold veal. "You have a lovely white dress." "Listen, an areoplane."
"Oh no, it's a storm." He is French, after all.

RM: Would you comment on your statement in A Simple Question; and I quote, "In many places sweet and excellent silence has been replaced by bad music."?

ES: Well, which do you prefer: Music or Ham? In my coffee grounds...I often consult them,...for fun. I am very fond of coffee, especially if it's good.

RM: What do you think about the terms "meaning" and "symbolism" in connection with Two Preludes for a Dog?

ES: I am going to a billiards match. What a great match! Napoleon will be there. The billiards, Napoleon, I mean of course!...THE REAL ONE. Or at least a very good likeness...Get out now!...Off like a gun!...Come back in ten minutes...I shan't be here.