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October 27, 2005

Quick Hits: Arman, Hammer and Other Paragons of Purity

(A return to the art blog fold.)

Off in France: "Chirac Pays Homage to Sculptor Arman."

Whatever one thinks of Chirac or the French, can anyone even imagine an American President making the death of any artist a matter of state business? (Anyone, for example, recall if Nancy happened to prepare a word or two for Ronnie when Warhol's fifteen minutes came up?)

Bush v. Brush
André Morain: Marianne Nahon, Jacques Chirac, Françoise de Panafieu, Michel Boudinar-Ruel, Oeuvre d' Arman, FIAC 1990

Quelle différence, non?

* * *

Lavater: 'Illustrative of the Temperaments'


Ehh, why the hell not? Someone needs to tell us just what's going on in this man's head:

Tom DeLay, Mugging

* * *

Para-sites got you down? Try a little paragone.

(Ahh, but maybe you were expecting something more like this? Well, then, this looks fairly interesting—though I kinda wish I could read Japanese... Anyone care to help me out? Franklin? Ritchie?)

The Paragone

"Quick Hits: Arman, Hammer and Other Paragons of Purity"
Posted by Dan at 11:11 AM | Referenced URL's | Comments (2)

A couple thoughts in the wake of the broom...

1. Was there anything more disingenuous in Fox's coverage tonight than having Joe Francis Buck list off the neighborhoods of the South Side as if he's a regular Chicago homeboy... before telling America about all of the "stockyard workers" that'll be making merry back in Chitown? (They'll all be doing the Lindy Hop with Alphonse and his merry band of bootleggers, I suppose... "That's it: Twenty-three skidoo. Twenty-four, twenty-five skidoo...") Perhaps Joltin' Joe's just been reading his Upton Sinclair (and bully for him), but maybe someone can bring the guy a little more up to speed.

2. Honestly, how could those Houston fans have ever let Uribe get his mitt on that pop-up in the ninth? With the Series on the line and the ball clearly in the seats and fair game, there should have been a hundred and one civilian hands on that ball, and maybe even a bit of blood drawn. I fully appreciate the deep irony in a Cubs fan counseling smart fan interference in the playoffs, but seriously: would Sox fans have ever let an opposing player walk away from those seats, ball in glove and dignity intact? (Answer: Only if they were too busy slapping the guy's wife.)

"A couple thoughts in the wake of the broom..."
Posted by Dan at 12:01 AM | Referenced URL's | Comments (0)

October 25, 2005

Quote of the Evening

Joe Buck on Enron Field:

There's the train, part of the flavor of this . . . stadium.

* * *

Trivia: The train, of course, is a tribute to Houston's old Union Station, which now forms one of the park's entrances. But did you know that any batter who hits the replica locomotive on a fly wins a free Blizzard at any participating local Dairy Queen? Just another wacky ground rule that makes Houston Astros baseball the pure sporting thrill that it is.

...Late Update: Did Fox just lead into the top of the 7th with "I'm So Bored With The U.S.A."? ...On second blush, I think it was "Complete Control," which probably makes a bit more sense title-wise. But, hell, why not hit us with a little "White Riot"?

"Quote of the Evening"
Posted by Dan at 08:53 PM | Referenced URL's | Comments (0)

October 24, 2005

For Sale: $400 Million OBO

(We're all baseball, all the time.)

If conversations with random strangers at suburban hot dog stands can be trusted conduits of timely and accurate financial news, the Tribune Company is thinking about putting the Cubs up for sale.

With its stock price down nearly 27% over the past year, the company is apparently looking at going beyond mere "cost-cutting" and will be considering selling off any of a number of non-core businesses, a list which includes a certain underachieving cash cow at Clark and Addison. (Along with all of the usual problems and revenue drains that attend newspaper publication in this digital age, Trib Co has also been slapped with an inherited IRS tax liability of up to $1 billion.)

Here's what Crain's has to say:

Tribune Co. CEO Dennis J. FitzSimons is considering selling assets to prop up his company's shares, and that's got some wondering if the Chicago Cubs could go on the block.
Investors expect Mr. FitzSimons' search for salable assets to focus on holdings not fundamental to the company's primary businesses of publishing and broadcasting.
Selling the Cubs "makes more sense now than it has in a while," says John Miller, a vice-president at Chicago-based Ariel Capital Management LLC, Tribune's fifth-largest shareholder. "They're trying to get the stock turned around, so they tried buying back their shares, and that didn't work. Now, they move on to non-core assets, like the Cubs."
Asset: Chicago Cubs (100% Tribune-owned)
Estimated sale value: $400 million to $550 million
Why sell? With Wrigley Field expansion set to begin and attendance at all-time highs, the team would fetch a premium. Tribune could demand long-term broadcast rights in any deal.
Why not? Tribune bought the team for $20.5 million in 1981, so the tax hit could be large. "They'd also be very wary of ever being in a position to bid for the Cubs' broadcast rights, no matter how far in the future it is," says Barrington Research Associates Inc. Analyst James Goss.

In what's probably little more than regurgitated AM radio speculation, my lunch-hour interlocutor has it that maverick billionaire benefactor Mark Cuban is an interested party. Bet he'd keep those purse strings loosened.

"For Sale: $400 Million OBO"
Posted by Dan at 05:35 PM | Referenced URL's | Comments (5)

October 17, 2005

For this I'm missing Arrested Development?

We'll get back to regular programing sometime shortly. For now, there's an 800-lb gorilla in Chicago, and she's wearing a 2005 ALCS Champions hoodie...

Yes, baseball's World Series is finally coming to town, though it's not quite what I'd hoped for.

Congratulations are certainly due to the South Siders and their fans, all 35,748 of them. Not even a month out from barely averting the all-time choke, the team looks pretty unstoppable right now (and rumor has it that Ozzie's giving his bullpen the next couple of weeks off). As they're poised to light up the Houstons in short measure (Houston first base coach Jose Cruz should probably watch his back), I suppose sour grapes are out of line.

So, the silver linings:

A) The supremacy of pitching. It's nice to see that a team with mediocre to middling offense (8th in the AL in regular season OPS, 9th in runs, tied for 11th in batting average) can still win it all with dominant hurlers. So, let's get Kerry a new arm and get this over with.

B) Carl "The Diplomat" Everett. The guy's primed to say something very insane, very soon.

C) The Cards. Barring some East Coast-style voodoo, the Redbirds are done (and they've come within a loss of the pennant in truly spectacular, hot-headed fashion). The only thing that could diminish my pleasure in this right now (beyond the facts that it's Houston that they're losing to and that the Cubs themselves are currently on vacation) would be to see Albert "It's Pronounced POO-holes" Pujols sashay off with the NL MVP.

D) The hex. If those "baseball gods" that Bob Brenly always talks about really do exist, I do like the recent trend in MLB curse reversals. I'll believe that, though, when I see Dusty starting talented rookies and second year studs every day, and when I see the Cubs' rotation emerge from spring training sans season-ending injuries. That would be the stuff of miracles.

Of course, now that I think about it, this "first the Bambino and the Black Sox, next the Goat?" narrative is gonna be like armchair-sports-analyst crack next year, so this all may well prove more insufferable than I've yet anticipated. And, really, who am I kidding? We probably already blew our chance this century.

E) Maybe this will be enough to finally get Sox fans over their sad, sad obsession with the Cubs.

* * *

In other baseball news, for the ninth straight year, polydactyl reliever Antonio Alfonseca led the league in fingers in 2005:

"Antonio has been through a lot this season, including some elbow problems and a trip to the DL," manager Jack McKeon said. "But in the end, he just went out there and had a lot of fingers." There was once again a tie for second place behind Alfonseca, with 214 pitchers amassing 10 fingers each, followed by Bob Wickman, who finished last with 9.7.

"For this I'm missing Arrested Development?"
Posted by Dan at 08:16 PM | Referenced URL's | Comments (4)

October 5, 2005

Prattle of the Network's ARTSTAR

ARTSTAR, that little up-and-coming would-be TV phenomenon, is now in post-production and is slated to premier this coming March 30 on Gallery HD.

As mentioned previously, Duncan MacKenzie and Richard Holland of Chicago's own Bad at Sports recently had a chat with one of the show's producers, artist Chris Sperandio, recording the procedings for their podcast.

So let's all gather 'round and give it a listen, to see what we might glean...

Too fine for prime-time?

In which we find that someone might actually get to watch this thing...

Perhaps my skepticism regarding the size of ARTSTAR's potential audience was unwarranted. As Sperandio points out (23:32), Gallery HD can now be seen on DISH Network, which (as Sperandio is wont to repeat) is piped into somewhere around 11 million homes. Hardly chump change to be sure.

Of course Gallery HD is still only available to DISH Network's HDTV subscribers, and only those who pony up for the supplemental VOOM package at that.

And, in any event, I can't exactly picture today's TV audience thirsting for a documentary series on contemporary art. As Sperandio himself offers,

to call it a reality show is complicated because reality shows actually have a lot of money spent on them and are interesting to watch, where our show is much more documentarian and therefore slightly more dull to the average viewer. (6:14)

Sperandio talks big game about distribution and the like, but is there really any chance this show will prove anything more than marginal itself?

Later on:

So "reality show" is really just a marketing tool to get some network executive to buy the show, because that's what people want right now is reality television. But, actually, what we ended up producing is a fairly serious documentary about the New York art world. (9:04)

On the plus side, all this talk of documentary seriousness ought to ease the minds of those who initially found the notion of an art world reality show so viscerally offensive. (Ah, but about that...)

Bloggers: Mouthpieces of the entrenched elite or just mindless dicks?

In which Sperandio lets us know how he really feels...

Asked about the negative reaction that met the show's initial announcement, he seems to take ubrage at all that blog flak:

I think the main objection is that a lot of people in New York spend their time sort of queuing [cuing?] up. Right? They spend a lot of time developing their special relationships with people so that they might have an opportunity to do something. And here this comes along and basically democratizes what was otherwise a sort of secret brotherhood. And so, yeah, there is a lot of— there was a lot of resentment. I mean, you can Google "Artstar" and "Deitch" [give it a try], and what you get basically are blog screeds against the idea of a reality show somehow sullying the art world. And, if anyone really knew anything about the art world, they would realize that it's far more sullied than television could ever be and that, uh... yeah, that essentially they're being mindless dicks about things. (25:52)

In all seriousness, I think he misses the point here. That is, I doubt most critics really feared that this show would corrupt a lily-white NYC art world, but rather that it might perfectly dramatize or exploit that world's worst face—and that it'd be the artists at the short end of the stick yet again.

And, for what it's worth, the bulk of the online reaction was actually pretty damned ambivalent overall.

Si non oscillas, noli tintinnare

In which we are offered a view on what might have been...

Jeffrey Deitch's original vision for a Deitch Projects television venture was for an art world version of Playboy After Dark featuring the gallerist himself in the role of Hef's swanker-than-thou, pajama-clad party host.

No, seriously:

The original idea that they wanted to do was a kind of Hugh Hefner type show where Jeffrey is the Hugh Hefner type and it's a party that's going on and they just interview people. (10:24)

I've got no pithy comment in response to this; but, really, how awful would that have been? I guess we can thank our lucky STARS again that they went a little bit "higher concept."

No apologist for material culture, he

In which we're given an express catechism in a fresh brand of lefty techno-utopian fetishism and iconophobia...

After Sperandio offers forth a rather nuanced take on object fetishism and the material conditions of informational exchange ("property equals theft, man"—17:01), Richard Holland presses him a bit further:

Holland: Would you be happier if the information could be just downloaded into our brains?
Sperandio: I think I'd be happier that way. Don't make me quote the Internationale. 'Cause I will—I'll break it out. (18:25)

The international ideal, via neural interface? Servile masses, arise—and claim thy super technonanopony.

Sperandio's vanguard distaste for material culture suitably established, his feelings toward vulgar comic book fanboys should come as no surprise:

The problem I have with comic book fandom is their obsession with beauty and seduction and the lack of attention to things like distribution systems. You know— I don't respect the average comic book fan because they're somebody who's completely suborned [?] themselves to seduction of the image—who don't recognize the fact that they're being manipulated by big companies. (33:08)


Uh, who wants to field this one? Kriston?

"Prattle of the Network's ARTSTAR"
Posted by Dan at 12:06 PM | Referenced URL's | Comments (12)

October 3, 2005


Slow going around here, no? Quite simply, I've found myself seriously distracted of late by various matters that don't rate mention here and so haven't been around this place as much as I'd like.

A leading question, though: just how out of touch am I? Well, today I found out about this little thing in the local press from a guy in Montréal. So there's that (and I'm understandably pleased, if surprised).

In that light, to everyone who's found me via Newcity, a belated "welcome." And to Michael Workman and the rest of the paper's Best of Chicago 2005 crew, an earnest "thank you" and a sputtering and embarrassed "I'm flattered, but..."

* * *

Moving on, then, to the truly exciting stuff... other people's blogs.

Though it's certainly nowhere near approaching the 400+ entries on Chris Hand's impressive list, my blogroll is starting to get a little out of hand. This is undoubtedly a good thing, but I still sometimes debate whether I should try to reign in the chaos or just continue to let it stand as is.

At any rate, and more to the point, here's the lowdown on the latest few additions (none of which, so far as I can tell, appear in Chris' otherwise virtually exhaustive list)...

For starters, of course, there's James Elkins' foray into Blogiana, one of a handful of new SAIC faculty blogs found at/via F News. (Hopefully Elkins will make good on his promise to stick around after the symposium—the internets are clamoring.)

Another faculty blog, Time Tells, comes to us from Historic Preservation Chair Vince Michael. Be sure to check out in particular his trio of posts on the preservation of New Orleans in the wake of Katrina, as well as this disappointing tale from the heartland.

Also locally, there's Chicago Arts. It looks to be mostly listings, but how could I have not seen this one before?

And, via a flyer handed to me at the Against Me! show at the Metro last week, Free Radio SAIC. It's not a blog and I haven't really given it a listen myself, but it struck me as plug-worthy nevertheless.

Finally, moving beyond the Second City, we've got Fleshblog by artist Ben Volta and Heart As Arena by Brent Burket (who also pitches in for NYC public art producers Creative Time at their house blog and contributes further at the House of Fallon and Rosof).

* * *

I hope to get another quick post up tonight. In the meantime, though, I feel compelled to share this from my Jeep...

Harmonic Convergence

Yes, I'm a tremendous dork. But in this I'm hardly alone.

Posted by Dan at 09:39 PM | Referenced URL's | Comments (1)

Beyond parody at the New Criterion

Even as we anxiously await Roger Kimball's reverse hagiography on the late August Wilson, let's take a moment to appreciate this tidbit from the New Criterion's latest Notes & Comments:

But what caught our attention most recently was the lead article, by Ginia Bellafante, in the Sunday arts pages for September 18 [read a version here]. Entitled "Bill T. Jones Is About to Make People Angry. Again.," this 2,200-word valentine to the fifty-three-year-old black, HIV-positive choreographer-activist (get the picture?) was partly an exercise in hagiography, partly an ideological position paper.

Get the picture? Yeah, I think we do. And no number of irrelevant Heidegger quotes will suffice to shine this pile.

I also love the scare quotes around "women's rights" further down in the editorial. Don't give 'em an inch, boys.

"Beyond parody at the New Criterion"
Posted by Dan at 10:08 AM | Referenced URL's | Comments (0)