New Year's message: Tom Waits reads Bukowski's "The Laughing Heart"

A wonderful happy-new-year message, Charles Bukowski's "The Laughing Heart":
your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.
P.S. !@%# you, 2009.

Via @halomode.


Bits: 12.30.09

Kermit on a bike: modified lane marker in Newtown, Sydney, Australia, by CallanB, Flickr

• New York's Museum at Eldridge Street has commissioned artist Kiki Smith and architect Deborah Gans to create a permanent stained-glass window for the historic 1887 Lower East Side synagogue. DesignBoom has the preliminary drawings.

• This is definitely deserving of a long post of its own, but in case that doesn't happen: ROLU has launched scattered light, a participatory poster and attendant photo exhibition project by asdf, commissioned by ROLU.

• A "huffy" Canada has shut down two spoof sites critical of the country's response to climate change. Problem is, in the process they killed some 4,500 other sites as well.

• Artnet compiles its year-end list "completely at random": "We won’t go into the details of our procedure, but let’s just say it involved a 12-sided die, and it would make John Cage proud." Via Joy Garnett on Facebook.

• Speaking of Joy Garnett, she offers the ten "most scathing art review zingers of 2009." My fave: Artforum's Gene McHugh writes that the New Museum's Younger than Jesus triennial inaugurated "the era of the exhibition as status update."

• As C-Monster's Carolina Miranda looks at bug-based art, Art:21's Nicole Caruth recaps the year in meat.

• Speaking of C-Monster, check out her new gallery of street-art in San Jose, Costa Rica.

• Video: The most important 6-second drum loop in music history. Via Mediation.


Bits: 12.21.09

The River that Flows Both Ways, Spencer Finch, installed along the High Line, NYC

The Eyewriter is "a low-cost eye-tracking apparatus & custom software that allows graffiti writers and artists with paralysis resulting from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis to draw using only their eyes."

• Northern Lights announces its 2010 Artist on the Verge grant winners, who'll be completing works on the intersection of art and technology next year: Arlene Birt, Kyle Phillips, Janaki Ranpura, Tyler Stefanich and Tectonic Industries.

• Photographer Alec Soth is blogging again! Read him at Little Brown Mushroom. His remembrance of Larry Sultan is especially good.

• Salva Lopez's photos of abandoned water parks.

Video: David Byrne discusses his book Bicycle Diaries.

Posters 4 Tomorrow's 100 best posters of 2009. Theme: Freedom of expression.

• A new $1.99 contemporary art iPhone app, “Art for Mobile Life," starts out with a work by German artist Carsten Nicolai.

The Web 2.0 Suicide Machine: Kill your social network.

• Dickens' ivory-and-gold toothpick sells for $9,150 at auction.

• Your moment of badass cat on Roomba.


Bits: 12.15.09

• After the Vancouver City Council forced the removal of an art billboard (mildly) critical of the Olympics, the piece in question -- Olympic rings with four frowny faces and one smile, created outside an art gallery -- is back up, and the Council promises they won't clamp down on galleries this way again.

• "St. Gaudi"? PRI's The World did a segment last night about the movement to canonize the Spanish architect, but apparently it's been going on awhile.

• Dischord Records co-founder and Minor Threat drummer Jeff Nelson put an autographed test pressing of his old band’s 1983 EP, Out of Step, up on eBay -- and sold it for nearly $6k.

• My favorite from the "Crappy Bootleg DVD cover" Flickr pool is this pirated Star Wars DVD from Malawi: Along with Anakin and Padmé, it features Schwarzenegger with a big-ass gun and the subtitle, "Science Fiction Perform Distinctive." (Thanks, Ron.)

• Thanks to a Facebook campaign, Rage Against the Machine's 1992 F-bomb-laden single "Killing In The Name" is edging out a tune by the winner of Simon Cowell's The X Factor on the top of the UK's holiday charts. Cowell called the campaign "cynical" and "stupid," but RATM's Tom Morello is a fan. Best part: The Facebook group is soliciting donations to the homeless group Shelter, which has earned more than £30,000 so far.

• Shuga Records asked me to come up with a top-10 list of best albums of 2009. Here it is.

Weird Al does guest vocals on "I Bleed" at a recent Pixies gig.

Mediaite looks at the last decade in logos.


Canada promises to cut emissions by 40%... only not really: The Yes Men at Copenhagen

Canada's "announcement," given at a replica of the COP15 venue

If it's too good to be true... the Yes Men are probably involved. The legendary pranksters teamed up with "Climate Debt Agents" from ActionAid to announce Canada's bold -- but, alas, untrue -- reversal in climate policies. Timed to coincide with the UN summit on climate change in Copenhagen, the news came in a fake press release attributed to Environment Canada:
Agenda 2020 sets binding emissions reductions targets of 40% below 1990 levels by 2020 and at least 80% by 2050, in line with the recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and approaching the levels demanded by the African Group (link). The plan also introduces a new instrument, known as the "Climate Debt Mechanism" (CDM), committing Canada to much-needed funding to those developing countries facing the most dire consequences of climate change. CDM payments will begin with 1% and rise to the equivalent of 5% of Canada's GDP annually by 2030.
That was followed quickly by a response from a Ugandan official (also fake), who on a faux COP15 website, congratulated Canada: "This is a day that will define our century," said Margaret Matembe. "Today, we no longer have to wait for a COP20 or COP100 before the voices of our children are heard."

When the real Canada finally responded, they said, "More time should be dedicated to playing a constructive role instead of childish pranks," then accused green activist Steven Guilbeault, of Equiterre, of being behind the ruse (Guilbeault called it "shameful" that he'd be accused without proof).

Among Canada's transgresssions, according to a Yes Men statement: it's the only country in the world to bail on its Kytoto Protocol promises and was voted worst of all countries for it at last year’s climate summit in Poznan.

Update: The UpTake shoots video of the Yes Men explaining the Canada COP15 hoax.


Bits: 12.14.09

Mobile Matrix by Gabriel Orozco, a modified whale skeleton on view in his MoMA mid-career survey

• American architect Christophe Cornubert's "CO2 Cube," now on view in Copenhagen, is a glowing video cube displaying artwork and newscasts. But its size is what's most important: At 19,683 cubic feet, it represents one metric ton -- the amount of carbon dioxide the average citizen of an industrialized country releases each month.

• In moving testimony at Copenhagen, Ian Fry from the Polynesian nation of Tuvalu told delegates of his frustration that real action on climate change is held up by a few American senators: "The fate of my country rests in your hands."

RIP Larry Sultan: The California photographer died after struggling with cancer at age 63.

RIP Robert Heft: He designed the 50-star American flag... as part of a high school project in 1958.

RIP Giorgio Carbone: "After convincing his Seborgan neighbors [on the Italian Riviera] of their true significance, [he] was elected prince in 1963. He gracefully accepted the informal title of His Tremendousness, and was elected prince for life in 1995 by a vote of 304 to 4. Voters then ratified Seborga’s independence, which, by the prince’s interpretation, it already had."

Hiroshi Sunairi's Tree Project -- featuring plants grown from seeds of trees that survived the bombing in Hiroshima -- is on view at the Horticultural Society of New York through Feb. 12. Here's my interview with him.

• After a preview at Art Basel Miami Beach, Tamra Davis' documentary Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child heads to Sundance next month for its world premiere. It features a long interview with Basquiat shot just before his death at age 27 in 1988.

• Here's who's in the 2010 Whitney Biennial.


"War is Over," now in Braille, semaphore and... Klingon?

Yoko Ono continues to add languages to her Flickr set of printable "War Is Over" posters -- with new versions running from Croation and Burmese to semaphore, nautical flags and... Klingon. Yoko and her staff have created 60 versions so far, but much more is to come.
We're also looking out for Amharic, Assamese, Azerbaijani, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Cantonese/Yue, Cebuano, Fula/Fulfulde, Gan, Georgian, Gujarati, Hakka, Hausa, Igbo, Inukitut, Javanese, Kannada, Khmer, Madurese, Maithili, Malagasy, Malay, Malayalam, Marathi, Min, Nepali, Oriya, Oromo, Punjabi, Serbo-Croatian, Shona, Sindhi, Sinhalese, Sunda, Swahili, Tamil, Telugu, Tibetan, Ukrainian, Urdu, Uzbek, Vietnamese, Wu, Xiang, Yoruba & Zhuang and many others.

We were very happy to receive Klingon and Lojban and welcome more esoteric submissions.
For the record, "War is Over" in Klingon is: "VES 'OH GHOSTA.'"

U.S. zip code ScribbleMap

All the zip codes in American connected by a single line in ascending order.

Schjeldahl on the "mildly talented" Urs Fischer

Urs Fischer's Cumpadre, 2009

Suffice it to say Peter Schjeldahl didn't love the New Museum's show by the "mildly talented" Urs Fischer.

The kicker, from his New Yorker mini-review:
It’s all nicely diverting—but from what? If you spend more than twenty minutes with the three-floor extravaganza, you’re loitering. The New Museum could just as well not have done the show while saying it did. The effect would be roughly the same: expressing a practically reptilian institutional craving for a new art star.


"War is Over" in 47 languages

Yoko Ono has just posted versions of her "War is Over..." piece with John Lennon in 47 languages including Belarusian, Maltese, Japanese, Greek, Hebrew, Farsi, Mandarin, French and Turkish. Twenty-nine years ago today Lennon was murdered.

Update: Yoko's staff now have 60 versions, including Burmese, American Sign Language and Klingon.


Bits: 12.07.09

• Posterchild proposes... fittingly taking over a Manhattan subway sign to pop the question (above).

• Ai Weiwei, recovering from an attack by police and having had his web site shut down by authorities, on why artists should engage with new media: "To use art is not enough, to describe your view, in the old traditional forms, such as painting, sculpture…as a citizen you need to express your views. Writing, blogging and giving interviews is a part of that, otherwise you will very easily be misunderstood by the establishment…as long as there is power and people there will be a struggle."

• Businessfolk weigh in on art -- and don't like it. BusinessInsider's Clusterstock says a mural at Goldman Sachs by "obscure" artist Franz Ackermann is ugly, "loud and cartoonish," and they don't like Julie Mehretu's piece much better. (Via The Awl.)

Richard Wright wins the Turner Prize.

• The Schlong War: Copulating critters and a man with a giant penis make up a vaguely Bosch-like facade on a building in Berlin. Apparently, it's part of a feud between lefty newspaper Taz and mainstream behemoth Bild.

• NEA adds linky circuitousness to sites to avoid rightwing harangues about politicization of the arts.

• After that last one, lower your blood pressure with Kimsooja.

• Highly recommended: The documentary The Cats of Mirikitani, a moving and at times enraging documentary about a homeless Japanese-American artist facing post-9/11 America.

• Just in time for the UN climate change summit in Copenhagen, Art Threat looks at the exhibition Rethink: Contemporary Art & Climate Change.

Video collage artist Craig Baldwin's The 70s Dimension.

Norman Rockwell's source photos.

From the archives: Sonic Youth at the Walker Art Center

Sonic Youth @ Walker Art Center
Just unearthed this 2006 photo I took while working at the Walker Art Center: Sonic Youth visits the exhibition Cameron Jamie.


WaPo correction: Public Enemy didn't say 9/11 was a joke

D'oh. From Thursday's Washington Post:
A Nov. 26 article in the District edition of Local Living incorrectly said a Public Enemy song declared 9/11 a joke. The song refers to 911, the emergency phone number.