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  • theaptPORTFOLIO

    theaptSHOWS

    May 18, 2015

    dave grammy

    I’m starting to think Letterman’s booker is not going to call…

    I was 19 years old when I got off the proverbial boat from my native France, landing in the port of New York City in order to attend Parsons’ School of Design‘s Photography program, which I would quit after just one session so as to move my images around to NYU’s Tisch School of The Arts in the Film department. In between those dark rooms and even darker rooms, I would come to learn most of what a rosey-cheeked French boy would have to in order to fit in with these American teenagers from my context: getting used to bagels, Kools and tightly fitting baseball caps but above all, television…

    See, I wasn’t exactly a friend-magnet back then, with one notable exception, and spent a LOT of time alone, walking and observing the streets, getting used to the subtleties of paying for sex in the meatpacking district and staying up late upon my return in front of the colorful glowing tube to watch what this marvelous culture, of which I only heretofore knew about in terms of Miles Davis and Converse All-Stars, had to offer. That is when, after a painfully long lead-in addiction to Arsenio Hall, I was introduced in September of 1989 to the gift that was, and is, Mr. David Letterman. This was the first show I saw:

    Of course, I didn’t understand most of his references, mine being mostly cigarette and beret-driven, but to start any form of televised entertainment with a list of the Top Ten numbers between One and Ten blew my mind. I don’t want to say literally blew my mind but close enough. Every single number he read had me in bewildered stitches, and not just because the bit was that funny but because I couldn’t believe this was actually being televised! The fact that it wasn’t really a joke at all, something that can perhaps be said about the whole run of the show, rather simply a compendium of disparate characters, circumstances and words never before put together, was the incredible thing about it. As I sat through that show, devouring another American success story with a glass of whole milk and almost every night of the last 26 years, give or take a vacation, I have been in awe of this man’s pioneering spirit in the arena of buffoonery. He didn’t seem to simply want to amuse us, he needed to amuse himself, and the confidence required to do that in front of people was astounding to me, unknown really, especially in a man who seemed to seek no other form of fame than that lent by that daily hour, and even-so, reluctantly.

    As a film student, I was starting to think of people who did things I liked or loved as other, people like Orson Welles, John Williams or Gordon Willis, whether legends or craftsmen, they seemed untouchable. Not so with Dave. First of all, Dave… What kind of an on-screen name is that for someone I should aspire to be! But that was never his pitch, never his aim. He seemed much more excited in setting a table, summoning people he thought interesting to it and then invited us in, on equal footing with anyone in his chair. That’s why when he made fun of Madonna…

    we were with him. When Cher called him an asshole…

    we were with him. And, most significantly to me in my young years, when Sandra Bernhard manically flirted on the air…

    my lord, was I WITH him! And of course when, quite a few Septembers later, the lights came up on Dave without an opening credit sequence…

    we were with him all the way, now and forever, like Cats. And when Ted Kopple interviewed him about that moment…

    that “I’m not sure” is heartbreaking… Perhaps because we felt as he did, not sure of anything, really, anymore.

    We knew then, as we know now, that Dave is not only a simple clown dipping his be-Alka-Seltzered body into a human-sized cylinder of water, but a thoughtful man, one who might even pass his own test of being able to take a cross country road trip with and come out better on the other end. When I watched him, I didn’t just seek mindless amusement, those who did would soon switch to Leno, I wanted to see my own strange perspectives, my own creativity, my own shamelessness, somehow represented before a national audience, as if to say “did you see Dave last night? That’s how I feel all the time!” Surely not as articulate, witty or humble as his, our generation’s muddled vision had finally found its champion, even better because he desired to represent no one but himself. Dave pointed the way, my whole American life, 26 years running, to a perspective of existence that included, nay demanded, irony, a quality able to remove ourselves from the misery we all feel and into a temporary state of discerning spectatorship, enabled by those before he, from Twain to Carlin, to laugh at everything. For that perspective, I and millions of us owe him an ENORMOUS debt of gratitude. Without that perspective, borrowed and then torn from the pages of another gap-toothed hero in Mad Magazine and thrown on television, there is no Funny or Die, there is no Tim and Eric, there is no Kimmy Schmidt. He provided a safe doorway to subversion.

    Through him, I was introduced to Bill Murray, to Steve Martin, to Andy Kaufman and Regis Philbin. Thanks to him, I felt welcomed into the American psyche. Thanks to him, I grew up to accept weirdness as a pro, not a con. Which is why I was thankfully ready to subsequently accept Larry David, Garry Shandling and Jon Stewart into my life. He upped the quality of my viewership from mere passive occupation to an almost active form of craft, that which demands knowledge and understanding in its audience, without which The Wire might just have been a show about a wire.

    As I moved to Italy a couple of years ago and only able to watch snippets on the YouTube which present only the highlights chosen by the staff, I miss the segments in which Dave truly shines, the in-between moments, the non-sequiturs, the silences, the mistakes, the times in which Dave dares put his discomfort on display, even at the more mainstream 11:30 hour, because being a host is being human, being a host is not what he does, it’s who he is. And all my adult life I dreamt that I might do something good enough, popular enough or odd enough to warrant my phone to ring with an invitation to that chair and a guest at his party, I would have loved to look him in the eye and said:

    Thank you Dave for giving us more than a voice but a language with which to speak, thank you for being even a reluctant patron-saint to the man and woman child in all of us, we will forever be grateful.

    dave smile

    April 14, 2014

    i was invited last week to spend some quality time at the wonderful design department of colman university in Tel-Aviv, Israel. my agenda was simple: try to bait the thirty-two students who had signed up for my 5-day workshop to look up from their notebooks, CAD workstations and CNC machines long enough to look around at the world around them and think of design not merely as a skill but a component of life itself. i was expecting some push back, especially from the administration, when i told them that school wrongly doesn’t encourage thinking but rather solely doing, that even tough their teachers ususally want to see busy hands, i would rather see open eyes. but no, no push back, well, not much. sure, it was weird to have me come all the way to the holy land just to see me talk to the students for an hour and then leave them to their own devices, only to check on them the next day, but they soon learned, both old and young, that in order to succesfully one day design what is out there, one must first wonder about what’s in here (can you see the “hand-on-the-heart gesture?…)

    the theme i proposed was Unloved…

    unloved

    …named after the objects of our lives that rarely get more than a fleeting thought from designers more concerned about adding their oh-so-special version of “the chair” to the fair grounds of the world. it’s enough! i thought… we have enough chairs, tables and lamps! who will focus on the more efficient cardboard box, the safe syringe, the lowly pail if not the next generation of designers for whom intention must trump ambition?… i thought. and, mostly, the students delivered with thirty-two projects borne of personal investigations into their own lives, looking at their daily routines and proving to themselves that they must first design things or experiences that have meaning for them, before tackling opportunity. i am so proud of them, especially since they did all this in a language that is not their own! i believe i will go back…

    December 13, 2013

    i’ll always remember when al gore conceded the election to george bush…

    … when SNL used a time-delay for the first time because richard pryor was hosting…

    and today, when beyoncé released her visual album

    that’s because today is my birthday and i will accept all forms of currencies as demonstrations of love. but selfies directed @stefanboublil are preferred. have a wonderful weekend!

    December 4, 2013

    jim henson’s The Dark Crystal is the first movie i ever saw multiple times, seven if i remember correctly. i think it was probably thanks to its seemingly mature themes of the complex interactions between good and evil. or because they were just slammin’ puppets, either one. now, it seems someone founda workprint of the much darker version henson wanted to put out but the studio wouldn’t. it is a gift to the procrastinators of the world…

    from the youtube page:

    Early versions of The Dark Crystal were a bit different than the version we see today. Jim Henson and Frank Oz originally sought to create a much darker story that relied more on the audience and less on voice-overs and inner monologues explaining the plot. In this version there’s no narrator, Jen’s inner monologues are gone, and the Skeksis hardly ever say anything in English (Aughra speaks some Skesis too!). This version is much more modern and a little darker with this original audio and the slightly different score. Some of the scenes are moved around too, which adds to the surreal feel of the original film. Some test audiences were more casual moviegoers and responded negatively to this version so the Henson team redubbed the ENTIRE film to help explain the plot to the audience up front and make things more obvious.

    Sadly this beautiful version was mostly lost with a few rough-looking (yet still redubbed at times) scenes making it to the DVD and Blu-Ray versions. Demonoid user Aikousha saw this early test version when he was a kid and took it upon himself to track down this little bit of film history. What he found was a very nasty black & white “workprint” copy (used by the production team) on a VHS tape that was very grainy and was almost unlistenable due to tape compression and SEVERE hiss and noise. But the important thing was that it was a mostly intact version of the beautiful vision of Jim Henson, Brian Froud, and Frank Oz. The Dark Crystal, as originally intended!

    Workprints are used by the production crew and this one has all the trappings of one. Grease marks on the film, rough cuts, tape slowdown, and unfinished special effects among other things. Now, this workprint is still out floating around on the internet but it’s really painful to watch and the sound is atrocious so I took it upon myself to clean up the audio, sync it to a clean treatment of the video, include some scenes that were unavailable anywhere else, and recut a watchable version that played out like the workprint.

    Disclaimer: It’s still a little rough. My computer had lots of slowdown since I was syncing to a HQ vid and some of the missteps in editing weren’t noticeable until the 5 hour render was complete! They’re minor and not frequent so it might only take you out of the moment briefly.

    Black and white scenes were included from the workprint occasionally since they’re not available elsewhere. They include: A matte painting of the Skeksis castle that pans down to the ‘lost’ Jen swimming scene, an extended clip of ‘Trial By Stone’, an extended scene in Aughra’s home, and a little extra at the end.

    Deleted funeral scenes from the DVD are restored to their proper place.

    Credit goes to Demonoid user Aikousha for finding the workprint and making it available. If anyone wishes to attempt restoring the black and white scenes I’ll gladly include them in a new edit of the film. For the record I attempted to contact the Henson company earlier this year when I had about half of the edit complete to ask about sharing this on youtube but they never responded to my inquiry. Also, I just found out today (Dec 2nd) that someone else attempted this same idea and called it “The Darker Crystal” and released it in September. This is NOT his version. I haven’t seen his version but I’m sure mine is similar to his.

    I began working on this over 2 years ago and finally finished it last week. Lots of work but it was worth it. Rant over.

    Enjoy!

    oh yeah, enjoy alright!…

    January 7, 2013

    i can’t think of a better way to sum up the way i strive to live my life than with those two little words. they are powerful, useful and, couple with discipline, the only way i know of to conquer fear. and to have garnered an eloquent supporter in ice-t doesn’t hurt. so fuck it, have a fantastic week!

    December 11, 2012

    on 12.10.12, we were invited to the ziegfeld theater to get the first glimpse of the musical that i have been waiting for since i was 11 years old. in september 1980, i was there, on the wooden plank seating of the sports arena that played the first-ever version of the show, slated to run for 2 months and no more. as the show ended and tears ran down my cheeks for reasons i did not, at the time, altogether grasp, i knew i did not quite understand everything i had just seen. rather i knew how i felt and let my imagination take over from there. last night, i realized that what i had imagined then, director tom hooper, show creators alain boublil and claude-michel schönberg and the cast and crew of this literally showstopping fim, put on the screen for me to see.

    September 6, 2012

    while you and i were sleeping late this morning due to having been over-excited at bill clinton‘s speech last night, other people were making things. people like theaptPEEP peter freudling who spends his time at ars electronica futurelab experimenting with life’s apparent passion for technology in a way electric sheep can only dream of. (yes, extra points for references.) so it was with this incredible display of ingenuity at the klangwolke celebration held last week where peter and his gang rigged 50 quadrocopters to grid the night sky. the result speaks for itself and is just amazing.

    June 11, 2012

    paths of glory, lolita and dr. strangelove (leaving aside killer’s kiss, the killing and spartacus which he did not consider his or any good) but he had still already acquired an air of mystery. especially as the rumors were starting to fly that he was now collaborating on something with arthur c. clarke. that is when physicist and new yorker reporter (because of course) jeremy bernstein came in and engaged the soon-to-be-legend in a 77-minute interview, an event that would go from rare occurrence to inexistent as the director’s career progressed and the man retreated. a must-listen for fans of both film and human nature… (via open culture)

    February 6, 2012

    as you know, i don’t often get personal in this here broadcast so please forgive the indulgence this one time and try to understand why i did it. first time going down a slippery mountain with waxed planks of wood on their feet for the kids. first time in 19 years for gina. first time in 23 years for me. it’s a goddamn miracle we’re alive…

    ok, and a little bonus…

    oh, and what the hell…

    that is all.

    November 14, 2011

    A CONVERSATION ABOUT GENIUS AND PARENTHOOD… WITH CHRIS WELLES FEDER

    i am french, (big surprise!) and came to new york city in 1989 to go to nyu film school. that is where i first laid eyes on the work of orson welles… like many before me and many after, i was struck by the films’ vision but, perhaps even more-so, by the man behind it. later, i grew to understand those kinds of multi-faceted geniuses such as mozart, eames or jobs as part of an exclusive club of those who, indeed, push the human race forward.

    as my career took me in different directions, i studied orson’s storytelling and flair for drama in everything i did. in the past 10 years, as the founder of a creative agency in nyc, i have been in the position to breathe some culture into an industry, that of design, that sorely needs it, and so we started to make short films. specifically lately, i have been interested in having conversations with people, not merely film interviews but actually talk. it has always seemed strange to me that talk shows in general only ever engage guests about what they may be promoting at the time, usually mere “vehicles” for the invited to distribute a piece of information that will usually be to his or her fiduciary advantage and i am rarely interested in hearing yet another talking point about how “it was an honor to work with brett ratner” or “a privilege to have nicki minaj guest on this track. what i have always wanted to hear were the meandering paths that spontaneous, if prepared, conversations between two human beings can take and being a fly on that wall. so imagine my excitement when the opportunity to meet orson welles’ first daughter chris presented itself at the release of her memoir in my father’s shadow: a daughter remembers orson welles (in stock!)

    actually, don’t imagine it, just press play…