Going to fly kites. On Saturday my friend & I went to Governors Island to fly these kites he bought on the street in Bed Stuy. (From a guy on Broadway, he says). We’re hoping to make them trendy so that we can open a small and extraordinarily expensive kite boutique in Brooklyn selling hand-painted kites in designs more meaningful to our clientele than the usual phoenixes and dragons, such as bodega cats and leaves of organic kale. I don’t see how this enterprise could fail: our kite-buyers would be able to literally fly their preferences overhead, and their friends would have no trouble locating them while waiting in one insufferable line or another. We haven’t gotten started painting the kites yet but by all means feel free to start spreading the word about them (“a potent medium for exploring notions of identity and selfhood,” etc.).
These people could be flying a bottle of artisanal apricot and Gloucestershire ‘Old Spot’ hotdog bitters or looking for their friends (underneath a tin of 19th-century moustache pomade) or their friends’ friends (a jar of small-batch rhubarb-peyote kimchi) instead of watching tacky cruise ships pass by, and if doing so would enrich me why shouldn’t they be?
How cathartic it was to narrowly escape rain — it started coming down just as our ferry departed — and have a restorative Vietnamese dinner in Chinatown, followed by browsing for weird fruits.
My friends are DJing tomorrow (Thursday) at One Last Shag in Brooklyn. Sadly I won’t be there because I’m Doing Other Stuff, but I see no reason why you shouldn’t be there. The flyer says it’s a queer party but they don’t get into scraps with breeders or anything like that. If you request a shit song, however . . . look out!
When I wrote that moon mania post about the restored color print of George Méliès’s Le Voyage dans la lune I was so into Air’s new soundtrack for it that I didn’t realize I already had an alternate soundtrack lurking in the more recessive recesses of my iTunes: Daniel Arfib’s L’Approche de la Lumière, from his album Musique Numérique. It’s just not an album I play often, but I happened to take a closer look at it the other day and immediately noticed that the length of the song (16:31) was maybe pretty close to the running time of the film. The title, of course, is not directly on point; it means “approach of the light.” The film is titled “Le Voyage dans la lune,” usually translated as “A trip to the moon,” and was made by George Méliès rather than his peers the Lumière brothers, who I used to mix him up with when I was a film student. (There was a healthy competition between them; Méliès was present at their first screening and offered them 10,000 francs for their camera, which they refused). But! It sounds like it could be a soundtrack. It’s not just that it’s outer space-y, it has a narrative feel, and it’s as arid and crunchy as moon rocks.
The running time isn’t quite right — the film is a couple minutes shorter, even with the long-lost ending that was discovered in 2002, which was well after the album was made in 1981. But if you press play on the song and the video at kind of the same time (or not quite the same time), something interesting might happen. As it did for me when I started the video a few seconds after the song and noticed the percussion kicking in at the same time the workers started hammering away on the projectile. There aren’t many moments of synchronicity like that but I think overall it’s more intriguing than the tired old Pink Floyd + Wizard of Oz sandwich others may have offered you.
I don’t know how to change the color of WordPress’s sickly pale little mp3 player so I’m calling your attention to it with words. There it is above. Under the video.
There’s not a ton of information on this album on the internet and next to nothing about this particular track, which is the B-side. I don’t know how to explain why but I very often think the things I blog about are not obscure and I am genuinely surprised when someone says “that was esoteric” or something to that effect — apparently I am afflicted by a peculiar sort of naïveté that causes me to think people will know what I’m talking about if I mention, say, a magazine that was published for six months in 1937 and doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page — but I can see that this is something people probably won’t be familiar with. I was tipped off by the eBay seller who describes the album as “private cosmic . . . . insanely rare and insane private electronic ‘photophonic’ music . . . . one of those early electronic music albums whose entire premise is based upon some bat-shit crazy arcane methods of computer programming or mathematical patterns . . .” I don’t have it on vinyl myself, I’ve just got a crappy mp3 I downloaded from who-knows-where a long time ago, but I see it was unofficially reissued by the Icelandic label Creel Pone in 2008, so . . . it is marginally less insanely rare than it used to be when the only actual copies floating around were the ones Arfib had privately pressed.
The internet says Mr. Arfib is currently working on something with “gesture controlled audio systems” in connection with “the geneva emotion research group,” but the links I’ve followed haven’t yet expanded my understanding of what that means. I’ll keep you posted. In the unlikely event you’re now jonesing for something at the poppier end of the French mathématiques-music spectrum, here’s that Jacno-produced single from Mathématiques Modernes I blogged about a while back.
The Sangha Program
For Boy Scouts And Explorers Who Are Buddhist
I’m trying to find a spot in my apartment for this vintage (1950s?) Boy Scouts poster. They were apparently recruiting buddhist boys and I suppose I am too, though it’s strictly a bring-your-own-kerchief arrangement, and you needn’t be buddhist, or a biological boy. I spent a semester in college studying in a buddhist monastery in India but the closest I have ever come to any Boy Scout stuff is I once sat next to a guy who sued them in a restaurant while he gave an interview about the case, which concerned their homophobic membership policy. He didn’t win that case, but “avowed homosexuals” are of course welcome in my troop, as are beardos, weirdos, sluts, hair hoppers, and people who are anti-troop on principle but like hiking. Merit badges will be awarded for arcane campsite selection; non-imperious hike leadership; fire-side blog-admiring; impressive erection of tents (that is what scouts get up to in the woods, is it not?); preparation of campfire breakfasts; preparation of campfire coffee (a separate and important pursuit, it nearly goes without saying); and tasteful and well-mannered book-borrowing. NYC-area recruits who like to take day hikes but do not have a car are eligible to receive Metro North train snacks.
The symbol on the poster is the wheel of dharma, also called the Dharmachakra. It’s a very, very old symbol with roots in Indian buddhism. Lots of types of buddhists use the wheel as a symbol but when one starts talking about turnings of the wheel things get really complicated. The concept of a sangha is more straightforward; it is, simply, the buddhist community.
a Tibetan altar cabinet with dharma wheels on the doors
I got my blog-defibrillator out this afternoon and my poor old food blog — dormant for two years! — has been revived. It is now sitting up in its convalescent blog-bed, smiling sweetly, and asking for esoteric soups.
Bartholonäus Traubeck, Years. A turntable plays trees by analysing “their strength, thickness and rate of growth. This data serves as basis for a generative process that outputs piano music. It is mapped to a scale which is again defined by the overall appearance of the wood (ranging from dark to light and from strong texture to light texture).” Via Need Supply.
“Un sorso di salute, nel rispetto dell’ambiente” = “A sip of health, while respecting the environment.” I bought it more for making ice cream with than for drinking, but it’s nice for drinking. I was expecting it to taste strongly of pine trees the way Italian pine honey does — eating pine honey, in my experience, is like being bonked on the head with a pine branch — but actually it’s rather gentle and balanced, with no one flavor dominating. Just the thing for a hiker’s mug.
In Suffolk there’s a beech so ugly that it terrifies children and pensioners, says the Daily Mail. I admit I did not read the article closely but it’s probably a benefits scrounger, too.
ugly tree by David Garnham
Blog-friend a wild slim alien — who is in fact a tree — pointed me in the direction of Five Dials, a monthly literary mag from Hamish Hamilton. Number 22 (Why Willows Weep and Other Tales From The Forest Floor) consists of fables about nineteen varieties of trees native to the U.K. and may be read here. Five Dials is a PDF mag but you can buy a special dead tree copy of this one issue to support the Woodland Trust here. They’ll plant five trees if you do.
how to get a tree to speak
EOS magazine’s talking tree has been telling the world about its life in Brussels for a year or so now. There doesn’t seem to be any sound coming through on its YouTube channel but you can listen to the tree on SoundCloud.