the definitive daily cultural column curated by stefan boublil.

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    March 4, 2013

    please, tell me if i’m wrong about this… as soon as there were cave dwellers, there were cave drawings. and as soon as there were cave drawings, there were storytellers. and as soon as there were storytellers, there were myth-makers. and the myths they made spoke of the unknown, of gods looking at us, judging us and deciding we could not be left alone. that is when the myth-makers discovered their power, when they understood that they could influence, guide and have authority over others as they told those amazing stories, especially if they involved aspects supernatural, aspects that could not be satisfyingly explained for they had no documented context and, most importantly, could not be proven wrong by empirical study. the greeks believed their dreams to have been transmitted during the night by the gods telling them what to do. the romans had the demiurge, a very, very tall man, who could actually reach into the heavens, talk to the gods and relay their messages back down to mere mortals. we have pat robertson, granted a diminished source of wisdom but still, all-in-all, a myth-maker in his own right. all of them, not merely content with transmission but requiring obedience without investigation. what once was wonder was turned into indispensable certainty in one or another’s story and the exclusion of the others’, to the detriment of peace. that was the beginning of faith.

    could the motivation for such an unreasonable approach be the simple, base, human need for control? i think so. control over ourselves, over our own fears, certainly. but then, still, our lives are just too damn hard, aren’t they? it was too hard then and it is too hard now not to have a safety net. and religion, as it eventually became known, is quick to provide one, which it does elegantly because it is so rich with stories, so rich with characters, so rich with lessons, with morality, with not-so-white lies. religion tries to do what art had done before it, to rationalize what keats romantically called “negative capability,” the wish to find a way for us to live with the unexplainable. art does so much, with so much more humility as it attempts, with mere interpretation of the world, to show us that which cannot be shown, daring us to look beyond form. art shows us, by nature, that there are parts of this world we cannot see, but it does so without vanity because it dares not name that which it cannot know, it dares not draw its face. the very opposite of the religious approach, on the whole.

    that is why i will go ahead and keep drawing, playing, choosing colors and camera angles in order to fill the void left by the original confusion and wish you an equally artful week!

    January 18, 2013

    the words “suburbia” and wild” rarely meet, unless of course, you’re talking about some eyes wide shut commemorative party my dentist didn’t bother to invite me to. probably because of that time i made a joke about gas. but that’s neither here nor here. i simply wanted to alert you to a wonderful book project kickstarted by photographer martin adolfsson and designed by theaptFRIEND larry mayorga. they have managed to capture both the silliness and eeriness of suburban model homes on just about every continent and the result should be an incredible part of your collection of shit your friends don’t have. so kickstart it now. that’s not a suggestion.

    January 6, 2012

    as previously over-explained, i don’t much believe in the act of admiration for other people’s accomplishments. yet, i still have a soft spot in my right lobe for two constants which have perennially showed a level so far above my own pursuits that they are worthy examples of principles to follow:

    – plato’s fictional dialogue between his brother glaucon and his teacher, socrates about a god-damned cave.
    – the love and care that mr. orson welles put into every single one of his endeavors, be they broadcast, projected or played.

    so imagine my delight when i discovered last week that the two had once met in the video above which illustrates perfectly my relationship to what we perceive to be reality. enjoy and have an allegorical weekend.

    September 30, 2011

    “being a dreamer, to me, I guess, means to be able to look beyond society and the barriers that have been pushed down your throat by religion, or government, or money; to ask questions, to want more for yourself and your fellow man.”

    those are the words of one artist named justin tellian, who is setting up up photo shoot tomorrow, saturday september 30th 2011, in flushing meadows corona park in queens and planning to remind all of us that we are not mere followers of ideas but creators of them too! the plan, as you can see on today’s theaptCOVER, is to set ourselves up in front of something that is greater than ourselves, to give us a goal, something to reach for and then, reach for it. simply, precisely, actively. and the best part? YOU’RE INVITED TOO! after mexico (above,) berlin, tokyo and johannesburg, it’s your chance to help new york city happen!

    just follow these directions, show up at 1pm, all dressed in white, with as many people as you can and be part of an amazing project put together by theaptSUPERfriends at trust art! and of course, stay for the dance party immediately following the shoot. so go, be a part of something important, and tell us all about it on your way back. have a dreamy weekend!

    June 22, 2011


    a salty dog beyond the dunes, divad q. nead returns with his late father’s day card (hand-lettered), a tomato and grilled impressionism cheese [sandwich] re.view of terence malick’s masterwork (another?) ‘the tree of life’.

    the 19th hour closed in on itself. i tapped my chuck on the corner of brighton and harvard, hailing the invisible asian cabs that i still see in my mind when fate waves the haitans past me, stuck dumb in the weekday pre-rain. custom jacket, bag slung with two giant sapporo reserves in tow, i waved and flailed, failing to haul marlin or sailfish, whatever fish the boston cabs seem to be  these days. ‘how ’bout a little leg, or pee wee’s gag thumb?’ i thought. no chance. my quarry was malick’s ‘tree of life’, newly screening at the art deco house just up the street from overpriced korean joints in allston village. barely a whisper beyond wells’s flash takes had been past my eyes since i returned from the missile peninsula. i was to go in quite green.


    June 3, 2011

    if you need something to widen your sphere of consciousness as you attempt to put in perspective the death of your grandmother, there is no better place to go than at le grand palais in paris right now to see anish kapoor’s leviathan… there are few words that can be used to adequately describe what you see invading one of the world’s most beautiful industrial buildings, a beach ball, a whale, a blown-up nave, all inconsistent with the feeling you have either walking around or within the thing. best to let pictures do the talking…

    May 23, 2011

    last week, i was lucky to have been invited to london by my beneficent mother to attend the premiere of a ballet scored by a friend of ours. yeah, that’s how we roll, apparently. so, a few kisses to my wife and children later, i found myself in the entitled cocoon of jfk’s virgin lounge, about to sleep my way across the ocean. that’s when i realized that, even though regaled by mommy dearest who has evidently been better with her money than i could ever dream to be with mine, it would be a shame not to take advantage of such a jaunt to pay my long-overdue respects to friends i hadn’t seen in a long time.

    April 11, 2011

    art, i am afraid of you.

    afraid, for you are no mere act of creation but a form of judgment. and i do not like being judged. you impose a sphinx’s worth of weight to a process already burdened with complicated matters of self-expression and the communication of intimate emotions to a world less-than-prepared to receive them. afraid because you are essential to my life, able to plunge me into the abysses seldom spelunked of the reasons why i do what i do, see the world thus and finally, perhaps, have the courage to be who i am. passionate at first, profitable sometimes, boring never, “you,” to quote peter cetera as one periodically must, “are the inspiration…”

    over the years, i have learned to understand my life as a continual work of art. not because of any pre-ordained sanctity or even accredited quality but rather through the acknowledgment that if i do not willfully choose the notes to arrange in the symphony of my life, they will not pick themselves. i am the conductor of this orchestra, the painter of this canvas, the director of this film and as such, must look at all that populate my life as the crew, the cast, the sets, the special effects, the costumes, the soundtrack that i, following the mind’s screenplay, must coordinate to my satisfaction so that the studio may be happy with the weekend’s ticket sales. my life is a work of art because it comes from nothing and goes nowhere; in the gallery space that is our earth only for a limited time, buy now! buy quickly! my life is a work of art, as is yours, for there is no alternative. and so, judiciously must we pick our forms of expression so that we may be heard, misunderstood, considered, the opposite of ignored, left alone, acclaimed, victimized, rich, missed or found. so many ways to define the art of our lives, so many schools to attend… which is why the various branches of creative activity can be so confusing to people.

    September 27, 2010

    sometimes, you have such important ideas to unleash unto the human race that you spend thousands of words doing it unknowing whether they reach or touch anyone… and other times, someone does it so much better than you without bothering to spend one that you have to leave the stage and bow in the corner. today is one such day. mareike ottrand obliges with the above, supernatural creator 2.

    have a wonderful week!

    September 13, 2010

    oped-new7culture, i once was told, is what remains once you’ve forgotten everything. i could not agree more but i have little choice since i have actually forgotten everything. it is a burden i have carried for as long as i can remember. from the benches of grade school to the last lecture given, a couple of weeks ago, i feel as if i have retained no factual information in my entire life and could not, with any accuracy, relate the dates of even the most famous of historical milestones. napoleon’s century? no idea. balzac’s first book? nothing. lennon’s death? zero. i have always been so envious of those who can count on their own neurons to preserve such particulars so at least to be able to participate in conversations with a wide range of knowledge at hand, ready to go. alas, said neurons are not to be found in the porridge that fills my cranial cavity. what is there, however, is a seemingly endless well of useless information which has helped me lie through forty years of diatribic exchange with my kind as well as write a book in which i damn well sound as if i know what i’m talking about. i assure you, i do not. it just seems that at the drop of a gigantic hat, i seem to be able to meander my way down the vast and disorganized lane of my intellect and retrieve approximations, patterns and flatulent emotions that sound pertinent enough to allow me to appear that which i do not consider myself to be, cultured.

    indeed, that is actually what i found myself in agreement with at the beginning of this column, with the idea that knowledge, once heard, can be forgotten consciously but still lives, somewhere within the folds of the cerebrum allowing us not just to revel in the joy of repetition but assimilation. perhaps that is culture.

    not quite sure how to correctly define it, culture is a moving target of sorts, more than a collection of dates and places that we happen to remember and are able to regurgitate at cocktail parties. of course different cultures, in the ethnocentric sense of the word, practice different customs in assembling their culture, in the intellectual sense of the word, and, as such, make for an almost infinite array of understanding of what constitutes Culture as a whole. still, the principle remains the same, no matter how many books on your shelf, what league the school you attended springs from or even how amazingly inclusive your parents might have been during long, nixon-era discussions, who you are is concocted from a witches’ brew made up of small parts of all that surrounds you, which, if you let it, eventually turns into mysterious culture. when you shine in aforementioned society and are able to make well-timed, skillful and appropriate references to gordon e.’s late-night caltech partying in a conversation about moore’s law, you feel proud and exhilarated by the fact that you were naturally able to place something others could not. is that culture or is that regurgitated wiki-knowledge? i think culture might ultimately be about the understanding and use of the world one inhabits and less about knowledge of the past. our brains, even if lacking in letting us quickly compute cures for all that ails us, are still quite formidable little machines that allow us to not only rewind, fast-forward and auto-reverse our memories but also to draw conclusions from them. if we applied ourselves and dedicated our lives to knowledge, and i believe bernard-henry lévy alone has, we may be able to know everything, or at the least enough about everything to then be free to draw from the bribes of information, potent conclusions. still, the questions persists, how does one use that knowledge, those conclusions? perhaps culture is more a function of use than it is stagnant knowledge because it provides us with an insight into behaviour, perhaps even into the way things are supposed to work, the way people said things should work which provides us with the tools to grasp how it does work in the present and might work in the future. really, culture is a tool, a way for us to seize upon knowledge of ourselves and others in order to make our own minds up.

    culture is, as a matter of fact, the cornerstone of a life considered.

    culture supplies you with the tools for self-knowledge because, ironically, it opens the door to just about everything except you; it luxuriously seats you in the first row, center of your context, past and present, that of your parents, of their parents, of history, of geography, of human behavior, et cetera. it is all there, waiting for you to wake up to and study. when your culture is said, by some people, to be well rounded, what you should hear, after feeling appropriately flattered, is that you have at your disposal everything you need to find out about yourself. and such opportunity is not predicated upon access, you do not have to live in new york, paris or shanghai to participate in culture. as usual, meaning has been carelessly taken away from the words. culture has always, ever since the days of augustine, meant cultivation, not broadway shows, it has always symbolized the digging of soils, whether dirty or mindful, for the exclusive purpose of blooming. and that can be achieved anywhere on earth, in any language, by any peoples without the help the disney or time/life corporations. in fact, the members of an barely disturbed amazon tribe, who will know exactly how to suck the poison out of your big toe after you have been nastily stung by the beautiful but deadly phyllobates terribilis stands in contrast to our need for color-codes and foreign language in order to purchase coffee at starbucks. undoubtedly more mindful of their context than we are of ours simply because they are more attentive, the members of the amazon tribe have achieved a culture not based on entertainment value but functional ethics.

    culture is not a value judgment and certainly not something that should be standardized across nations and heritage as we tend to bland everything around to achieve comfort, rather merely attained through observation and subsequent interpretation. and if what surrounds you is the kalahari desert, at the edge of which you have made it your mission to throw a bottle of coke back to the gods, then that is your cultural sphere, no better or lacking in comparison to any other. wherever and whoever you are, if you are curious about your world, you are fertile and should never waste such a gift. curiosity may have killed a cat but if culture has a place of honor within a life considered then curiosity is its fuel.

    i remembered david byrne and how, among other things, he had set up on a dock in new york a couple of years ago and turned an abandoned building into a musical instrument. how extraordinary is that man? how easy it is for us non-byrnes, whether it be out of bitterness, out of life beating us down or out of boredom, to lose our curiosity for life, for all that swirls around, for all that we could start, if only we knew how… sometimes it’s age, sometimes it’s a spouse, whatever it may be, so easy it seems to lose the will to take risks at adventures untried. and here is a man who, every day i assume, finds himself curious about something else, something new, a man who probably understands my world and era better than i do for he dares experiment with it. is he smarter than i am? certainly not. is it easier for him because he is wealthier? perhaps, but i doubt it. i think, simply, that he was able to retain the youthful curiosity which made him ponder himself, decades later in his journal, as “a peculiar young man” and use his perceived oddness to his advantage, with no shame or needed excuses which led him to take action upon his curiosity. throughout history, there have been a handful of such inquisitors, the crazy ones, as chiat/day once dubbed them on behalf of the apple computer company, the ones who weren’t content to be merely curious or good but dove right int to fulfill their ideals.

    that is an extraordinary trait, the principle behind which may easily get some of us into trouble with substances disapproved by federal governments, but should not, for this is a thirst that should never be quenched. it is the lifeblood of culture. it is the foundation of learning, of education. it is the beginning of the search for a considered life. if you are not curious about yourself, then you will probably never step foot on this path, you will probably never care to because you are comfortable where you are, how you are, with who you are. if there is one incentive you might comprehend, it may be that, perhaps most of all, curiosity is fun. i know the word itself seems misplaced among multi-syllabic peers but here it is. how fun is it to dig around context, world, habits, tastes, all of which is about you? that is where the reward awaits, in a task that at first seems daunting because inaccurately believed to be too time-consuming as the same time that we, strangely enough, do not seem to mind wasting time and trillions of dollars, collectively, on numbing cocktail parties and the best that cameron diaz has to offer. obviously, we as a species, rely on entertainment to minimize the daily pressures that we have built for ourselves, seemingly every part of our lives having been invaded by a form of distraction hatched by marketers who think themselves clever at the behest of clients who think themselves important. these are activities often confused with culture but so be it for considering one’s life is a form of entertainment in its own right, one that needs no other producer than you, no other writer or director, no other actor. and yet we rarely think of such a production as the opportunity for amusement that it is, rather mostly consider it learning. and, apparently, we have come to believe that any form of learning is work, even if it is an investment in yourself and, fundamentally, we don’t want to work. we would preferably think of fun times as mindless, undemanding, easy. such as the best cameron diaz has to offer.

    what we need to do is widen our definition of fun, here, now. the considered life is fun with your eyes wide open and brain fully functioning, available for expansion without any pharmacological stimulation, simply on the basis of its own ability to learn and modify knowledge. the only problem i have with drugs in this context is that they are lazy. i have taken drugs but once in my life and i have absolutely nothing against the selling or using of them but i do object to their functional nature, that of a shortcut. sure, i have a hand, i could grab that cup of coffee by myself, but look, i have a robot, i paid a thousand dollars for that robot and he’s going to grab it and pour the coffee in my mouth. that, to me, is, or has become, the function of drugs in society, that of an assist. how fucked up is that? did anyone else see wall-e?! it is the threat of sloth brought on by technology which is exactly how drugs came into existence. what if i advanced the theory that there is nothing drugs can do to you that you cannot do to yourself, that all a drug does is put a sequence of events in motion that makes a chemical avalanche possible in your brain but that all you need is the switch to start it all. for some it is a chemical but might it also just be internal acquaintance with the trigger? when we’re talking about culture, we are talking about being responsible for that culture, not about somebody else reading a book and telling us about it and it is important that this be self-perpetuated, or else we have culture by proxy, or, if i may coin appropriate a term, a placebo culture.

    placebo culture is one way to talk about the times we live in now, which are very much tied back to the incompetent education that we received as children because of the fact that we live through customs and traditions that are no longer our own. we live in a people’s republic of culture. we have created a magma of ideas that resembles culture, smells like culture but is not quite. we need a new template. and i don’t say this kind of shit lightly for i have an inveterate hatred of new paradigms, models, templates, patterns, blueprints, molds and other archetypes. usually used as meaningless boasts by people with a lot to prove and little to say, these concepts and their oft-prescribed obsolescence are yet another shortcut meant to show off the presumed wisdom of the one speaking them. but much like obama found out after unlocking the president badge at the white house, change is much easier promoted than accomplished. and so i do not mean to add to the trash pile by suggesting that we must rethink all that has already been thought, but simply let one of our most cherished inventions do its usually marvelous job: time. devised who knows when by people more organized than i, time thankfully still passes and allows us to look at the risks and revolutions attempted in the present in a very different way, a way much less chaotic, as seen from the future… once affected by time, the present becomes the past and the templates old and new no longer change. confusion felt during disappears after because you are now are able to reflect. time, and subsequently her twin sister history, have a curious yet altogether welcomed habit of flattening everything. the best parts of history and the worst parts of history are now simply pages in a book that we can refer to and, wishful-thinkingly, learn from. and so in five years, what we are now living will be links on the exabit internet to which we will fondly click back, in between ripping a torrent of michael jackson’s youngest son’s album retrospective, blanket’s best and instant-(re)watching the ewok trilogy, special edition. to know that this process is inevitable makes it a lot easier to tackle changes to the way we build and perceive culture for it lessens some of the risk for us shy folk.

    that is the amazing dichotomous power of culture, to be malleable yet remain a constant. to us, today’s culture is of course very much alive but tomorrow, today’s culture will be uniform, the day after that, it will be boring and another day later, finally forgotten. that is why we must keep it evolving at all cost, why we must fight every day not to waste a brain cell, an ounce of saliva, a word or a keyboard stroke on trifle. culture is there to put us in our place, literally, there to point the way to a more specific grasp of our surroundings, there to advise us when we make decisions and, as we know, decisions are the main tool of the considered life. since we take over five thousand decisions, large and small, every day, each the result of choices, conscious or unconscious of the process at work, we must be able to place these decisions within a cultural context, a sense of where we belong. otherwise, how can we ever hope to make good decisions for ourselves or the people we care about? which begs the question: if it is paramount to decision-making, where do we find it? how is culture dispensed?

    not on the mtv video music awards, that’s for damn sure… have a wonderfully interesting week!

    August 24, 2010

    i guess i could easily inflict upon you this morning a cool 5000 words attempting to explain to joy of having been in another place for the last month with theaptFAMILY, about how i went through just about every stated goal, about how the view from barcelona rooftops changes more than idle perspectives, about the women and shorts, about the explicable tears that ran down my cheeks when reaching the heart of gaudί’s sagrada familia, about the incomparable joy of seeing my brown girl (they are the best girls, you know…) about hiking up to 4000 feet to witness religious fervor, about how an unholy mix of spanish, french, portuguese and italian can easily pass for catalan, about the kindness of natives, about the annoyances of tourists, about how zoel and leeloo, my natural-born twosome, followed us through an itinerary that would have made forrest gump take a break, with nary a complaint, nary a cry, nary a call to go back home, about my breaking a twenty-year long vow of vegetarianism ever so slightly for delicious jamόn ibérico, about not eating a recognizable vegetable for three weeks, about depending solely on iOS to get me through, about “surviving” with only a pair of jeans and 4 tshirts, about loving to hold euros in my hands, about not keeping up with any kardashian, about the silence…

    i could but i won’t, instead will show not tell, with the pictures above… enjoy as i did. and i will speak to you next week.

    July 29, 2010


    part one

    bucking the draw of delving into sleep post calisthenics,
    divad q. nead hastily surfaces in hogye with the bends
    and depressurizes to christopher nolan’s “inception”,
    a haute couture jaunt into the subconscious of dreams.

    down from a run in the foothills in a humid summer rain, fighting
    sleep, i ventured deep into the love motel district of old bisan to catch
    chris nolan’s first original screenplay since “following”, which I recalled
    struck me as wonderfully paranoid and thickly thieving b&w british.
    packed bag with gun, sandwiches, and three asahi premium cans,
    i rose eight floors into the old kinex 10 gone corporate, stuck sardine
    in the lift with florally tinctured local girls, some holding the wrists of
    their friendos. i was late for the meet, but ju-lee had the spots sorted
    and we hunkered into a couple’s seat [double-wide], reclining opposite
    elbows, digging the corn. it was then that she sighed and said, “why not
    the imax, daw-ling?”, to which i replied, “have you the legs for seoul, doll?”

    neither of us could have waited the 40 ride into the limbo of yongsan-gu,
    and therefore we took the local cine-paltry with its cheap sound & digital
    projection. there’s just no arguing with a perfect friday night film for two.
    ju-lee cracks her first can and jostles for elbow room. fast-forward through a
    bevy of discussions regarding the architecture of dreams, a palaver on
    mazes between page and leo, and i’m left wondering just how good this
    flick is going to get on my first viewing. my billfold jumps up from my back
    pocket and says, “you’re in for two views, nead, better get comfy.” i slap at
    my leather baby and it retreats. ju-lee pulls out her trusty red penlight
    and begins to jot notes, which then turn into birds. i nod off. i’m three rows
    away from her, front and center. on the screen “the seventh seal”, yet the
    role of antonius block is strangely played by my mother. ju-lee reaches three
    rows with her long octopus arms and pulls me back into my seat. i wake.
    my beer is full, my socks are wet, shoes dry. a lapping tide brushes my
    feet and i look to her for a towel. on screen cotillard rages stuck in limbo.

    leo and jgl are telling us something about keeping our minds fit for dreams.
    i’m recalling how the foothills earlier that night reeked of charcoal, broken
    stems. not caring much for this film as foreplay, but its doing a damn
    good job of keeping me thinking. ju-lee, her hair now red like joanie, turns to
    me and says, “well, yes, i am going to have you write a thesis.” my beer is
    always full. the caramel of our popcorn tastes like a circus, everything’s gone
    gray in the theater. we watch the limbo of leo and mal crumble under time,
    or whatever “time” is supposed to be in this film. i think i need a math break,
    a bathroom too, perhaps. fight scenes with jgl in zero g lead me to believe
    that i’m not actually watching anything connected to itself, just thinking a lot.

    standing in the darkness to my left, ju-lee hands me a torch, we walk through
    a green exit sign and into my apartment. she points to the wall where i see
    a vintage poster for fellini’s “8 1/2″. “it’s not the film you thought it was,” she says
    in perfect provençal. “when did you learn french?” i ask, but we’re back in our
    seats, the film is definitely coming to an end. a van hits the water, everyone is
    asleep in the theater and on the screen. i have faint doubts that any of this
    is happening, but ju-lee puts her hand on my leg and squeezes. “that felt
    real enough,” i say under my breath. lights up, the crowd moves to the one
    exit that doesn’t lead to my apartment. ju-lee takes my hand, her hair back
    to black. we step into the central park fountain outside the exit. i wake to the
    rain, pants off, having never left my room. my mobile phone quietly vibrating.

    from bed i see the clock reading 10. i’ve dreamed my way through the show. i sit up.
    “inception” served me itself in a dream of itself. ju-lee on the line, she says, “i waited
    for you through the previews then walked from the theater. did you sleep through my
    calls, divad?” it felt real enough. on my bureau, two tickets for wednesday’s imax,
    she laughs over the phone, and we make plans to meet later for dancing, drinks.

    part two

    reeling from his dreamed-through peyote vision of
    the film, divad q. nead finally digests christopher
    nolan’s “inception”, favoring the waking life angles,
    taking stock of techniques, and most certainly staying
    awake for the film itself. the dream deferred until now.

    off a 40 ride into seoul’s deep reaches, to a cinema bolstered
    by pink [read: red] light windows and whores, i ventured high
    into row m, seat 7 for an imax showing quick on the heels
    of my local teatro fever dream of “inception”. sans ju-lee, her
    dream self detained by sleep in hogye, my eyes accompanied
    me along with an ipad of naysayish prose from a.o. scott & david
    denby. it’s enough to say that the web’s spoil-heavy reviews
    trump the need for taking this long-player into the evening, but
    as a steward of taste, i dropped the extra twelve on the big john
    imax and sat for a second go at nolan’s as of yet opus operandi.

    zimmer begins with enfolding brass, inquisitive minds will discover
    the brilliance of this thematic defilade upon digging for edith piaf’s
    presence throughout the film, including muse cotillard gone alex
    forrest. brought before wanatabe, dicaprio’s opening lines define
    the film without any of the following wizardry. he asks us for, “a leap of
    faith”. the audience & george michael gotta have it. to re.view this
    film without a dvd screener for pause/replay is akin to humping a
    typewriter into saving your novel in triplicate. it can’t be done. yet
    as a dutiful scribe, i want to fondly convey the absolute attention
    this film deserves from levels neither you nor i have yet to ascribe.
    in cocteau’s “orpheus”, for example, the director trusts that his
    audience will think actively, noting themes, a radio’s music, par
    exemple, working it out on their feet. “inception” is a rubix.

    nolan has been challenging the line of storytelling since “memento”,
    a film, if you remember, that required countless viewings, and took
    weeks to digest. thick, richly drawn stories with reflexive arcs
    move audiences to thought, and not just that rot-gut emotion that
    i recall my mother so dearly loved in “bridges of madison county”,
    but that ugly brother part of art appreciation called “participatory
    aesthetics”. “inception” got rough on my pals for all the right
    reasons, and this is by no means a defense. what schlump wants
    to defend art that makes bucks in the first? if you’re the chad-type
    who’s tip-toing along the western lines of film canon, taking your
    “i see dead people” to new levels every time someone flips you
    the bird, or you’re the kind putting down a foster wallace novel
    to check “ask metafilter” for a new pithy thread or clever commentary,
    then this killer blockbuster is going to sweep kick you into a morita
    healing session from which you’ll never slap hands/rub/recover.

    you, swarthy digestif drinker, you’re going to sit through “inception”,
    step from the theater after halting your applause, and think, “did
    i really just love that for the wrong reasons”, as i duplicitously did.
    you, cuing bill evans on the ipod ride home, will consider nolan’s many
    homages in the film, strung together throughout his plot, and executed
    with minimal adherence to an sort of guileless smiling, you’ll applaud.
    detractors, those in the back row checking their sms whilst leo sat with
    cillian trying to disguise his third level dream hostage taking, they will
    hem/haw over their spoons of taboule that the film relied too heavily on
    cgi, or get balls deep with npr pundits who said it lacks a hero or warmth.
    i will sit through your sugar tears. what you’re looking for isn’t a codice,
    nor is it a lexicon of “i love yous”. “inception” hauls us to that oft forgotten
    altar of elbow greased audience work. want a quickie, go catch salt’s jolie.

    trudging through podcast reviews, the very essence of all the net’s metayawns,
    i couldn’t help but genuflect in quiet protest, washing the feet of my beloved
    sense of taste, when i heard how so many letdowns were associated with
    nolan’s apparent lack of interest in making his love interest suffer to their
    liking. now if i recall, depp and cotillard did nothing more in “public
    enemies” and got the high five of green tomatoes for their on screen yowsa.
    as a third generation nead i am no longer looking, post wong kar-wai 90s
    films, for any sort of complicated, intertwined romances beyond my don
    draper heartstring penny opera. i doubled down on “inception” for the pure
    challenge of taking my multiflorus interests in architecture, psychology,
    and chemical abuse to a convergent level. i’m actually enjoying my own
    dreams more now that i know how much wrought-iron awesome can be
    culled, fictionally, of course, from the pure nature of my subconscious
    manifestations. “inception” takes the silver on the pedestal for “best
    attempt to get us thinking”. you’re not going to get a baseline backhand
    like this from any director until malick or lynch come back from their
    coffee bean cherry hunt to kick the dust in our faces. the sad thing about
    watching this twice, friends, is that i can’t go a 3rd time for the costumes.

    see “inception” for your bookstore strolls through the taschen/phaidon
    tomes. see it for the martha nussbaum book you put down in tears. sit
    through the cold, gut punching wow for the reasons you dare not share
    with your kids, your colleagues, or your subway brethren. it’s not enough
    anymore to just say you like/dislike, those words bear no affectation.
    dear critic cabal, you’re going to have to serve me a blue plate of considered
    commentary for me to take back my ticket fee for this film. show me the secret room
    where camus played bridge, and rub my corduroy shoulders for a while. divad wants
    you to dig “inception” so that the books on your shelves don’t burn themselves
    in a bradbury of 451s. this man is tired of your journaleasy underwhelmathons.


    June 4, 2010


    drawn back into the long asian arms of the chosun peninsula,
    divad q. nead solos a saturday into submission, visiting tokujin yoshioka’s spectrum show at the
    museum beyond museum in the heart of chungdam,
    seoul’s haute interior design district.

    straight from the likes of krypton come korea, i arrived
    at the theban entrance of the museum, itself a faux-esque
    limestone maw, nestled on a short corner in high/tight
    southeast seoul just an hour shy of spring rainfall. having
    already primed myself for the showing on a stroll through
    the interior design halles of gangnam and apgujeong, i
    steadied myself on the porch of an adjacent eatery, sipping
    cold local beer, mulling david lehman’s examination of the
    new york avant-garde, followed by udong noodles, pickled
    sorts. the femme behind the ticket booth glass, as many girls
    do when confined to tight spaces in this heralded land of tech,
    passed me my ticket through a slot whilst she nodded politely
    and returned to her tv on a mobile phone, 2.5 inch diameter
    screens are the metaphorical johnson, replacing the schvantz
    as the demi-attenton-getter for girls under 30.


    the exterior of seoul’s museum beyond museum stood out of place
    amongst modest-modish urban structures seemingly updated
    in a fierce whipping of style to match the now very radially-up
    gallery gate to heaven. ascending the stairs on a solid beer
    buzz/belly of noodle, for one never meets st. pete on empty,
    two magenta orchids threw my attention from the falling drops
    of pre-rain, to the massive diagonal of the staircase walls. it’s
    as if i’d entered the world’s greatest periodontist office, feeling as
    though i passed through two perfectly white anterior teeth, the gap
    between so lauren hutton, just enough to squeeze through ego
    intact. at the peak of the staircase, you feel that the sixties uss
    enterprise doors, split in rectangle, would open you into the bridge on
    the enterprise, and they do, as a motion sensor welcomes your presence.


    your collective design jaws [denmark, detox, décolletage] drop at the
    sight of the ‘rainbow church’, standing a mere twenty paces, seeming
    more at that, from your cut into the exhibit. not a soul to be seen
    between my vantage and the figure of prisms, the initial sight itself
    was akin to my first waterfall, or the arching plume of exploding light
    one receives from a clenched fist to the temple – stars. standing nine
    meters in a column of 500 prisms, the piece doesn’t so much daunt
    the onlooker as it does draw one into it, poltergeist t.v., hypnotists eyes.
    adjoining walls painted i-pod white reach to the same height as the
    piece and are canted to a trapezoid angle, further enhancing the strong
    magnetism of the prism monolith. struck second by the ambient music,
    coming from all directions, i took careful, wet steps into the structure,
    doing the best to owl-turn my head, catching the angles, straight white.


    an attendant chatted me as i read the plate of details, complimented by
    a crayola-come-matisse sketch of the ‘church’ itself drawn right onto the wall
    in primary colors by yoshioka. as this was late saturday, i was privy to the exhibit sans
    a body or two stepping from room to room. the bent straw tornadoes and
    whorls curled around support columns with torrential effect. jor’el’s crystal
    throne, or so i dubbed it immediately, rested in its case, a testament to
    crack rock chic if i ever. the attendant said it grew in an aquarium, while
    i thought of breaking bad, pop rocks, and the mexico’s vaunted treasure,
    cueva de los cristales. a man who dreams of seats made of crystal is both
    a: utterly japanese b: a natty geographic fanboy. not once did i find these pieces the
    work of a singular artist, as i would a de kooning or a newman,


    no – this exhibit runs more along the lines of science meets a milanese
    blonde in an osaka motel & made babies. the ‘waterfall’ pieces, themselves
    epic works of science meeting art, were culled using a platinum encased
    glassmaking process which probably requires the supervision of an entire
    wing of nasa’s hubble lens wrecking crew. yoshioka is no stranger to stellar
    lenses and clear constructions, having already blessed the facades of kartell
    and swarovski, along with a cartier bottle and hermés. of his advanced work
    with the clear, quick, and dead space he states, in an article feature on dezeen
    ‘i don’t set out to mimic nature; it happens unconsciously.’ in that, yoshioka cuts
    through to a question which held me throughout my quick, but long enough
    stop at the exhibit – how has wood persevered, and to that, concrete, as a go-to
    material for the world’s resting places? upon seeing my first kartell ghost over
    a year ago, instantly recalling norman mailer’s hatred for plastics, i began sifting
    the likes of my colonial pinch for seats and tables, opting always first for wood
    in the kitchen, concrete for the pillars. are the prisms and the clear lenses of
    yoshioka’s compositions something of a long awaited player in the wings,
    a homecoming for the house of the future, or are we simply struck by another
    advanced japanese mind determined to redefine the nature of our lazy baby blues?


    stepping out of the exhibit after shaking hands with the attendant, who actually
    gave me a secret solo smoke show in front of the prism wall, saved for larger
    crowds i gather, the rain came down in force, each drop itself a prism, itself a
    semblance of formlessness encased in the gloves of gravity – puddles on
    the sidewalk, water in my eyes. i waved to the ticket girl, and made my way
    out into a semi-wet seoul saturday night, out for drinks.



    June 1, 2010

    tobidiminutive and unassuming, tobi once waltzed into my office during his short yet vivacious tenure as the apartment design store’s art director and announced that he knew exactly what to do for our easter windows. what? i asked. we’re going to have a half-dozen live bunnies jump around the store! how cute i thought, until the next sentence came out of his mouth… and then, at the end of the day, we’ll cook them and offer them as dinner for a premium easter price! it wasn’t cute any more, it was brilliant. nobody was going to cook the actual fluffies of course but we were going to get some other comestible animal and pass it off as the instrument of provocation it was always meant to be.

    that was tobi, ahem, tobias, who never let anyone tell him that something wasn’t right, tasteful or appropriate. he invented, remixed, fawned, respected and ultimately gave more than he took in a design world not especially known for its generosity. i knew him well for a short amount of time and now, poof, gone… uncool. i will always remember how he took off work one day to get an eames chair he had found on the street to get autographed by philipe starck who was hosting an event at kartell nearby. it was pouring rain and he wasn’t on the list. so he waited an hour for the event to finish and the portly french designer to come out. toby asked, the man laughed and obliged, signing, from charles, ray and me.. he came back into the store, drenched but beaming. not because he had met a worldwide sensation but because he’d conned him… here’s hoping this whole thing is his latest. in the meantime, i will remain very, very, very sad.

    press release via MoCoLoCo.