The wide-angled picture above was intended to open a parody of "The Christmas Carol" but my kid is visiting, and he's hogging the computer. I can't get enough time on the machine to shoot the story. Oh well, it's great to have him home for the holidays. I'll just have to put up something else. Too bad. Scrooge is the role I was born to play.
Well, let's see....what do you think of this (above)? This is one of a bunch of pictures that I shot on a whim at various times, and couldn't find a use for. There's some more here...hmmmmm.....
Egad! I'm Howard Stern (above)!
Let me try an experiment. I want to see if these pictures will take the same layout on the blog that I'm seeing when I type.
Jake the barber (above) encounters the girl of his dreams while on his lunch hour. If I were a photographer I'd try mightily to shoot candid pictures with themes like this, but I'd probably fail.The chance of capturing real moments like this must be one in a million.
Just before Christmas Steve Worth sent me a comment about the new histories of the circus and of magic by Taschen, and I just spent some time looking at them on the Taschen book site. Wow, very nice! Very pricey, too... over $200 for both books; too much for my budget. Even so, they're worth a mention here. I get a million ideas when I look at stuff like that.
One of the ideas has to do with something I might have mentioned before, viz., that LA (and every town with cultural aspiration) desperately needs an arts district, or, more specifically, an arts street like the one in Edo depicted by Hiroshige above and below.
I prefer an arts street on the old Japanese model, with open store fronts and raised stages for hucksters to hype what's inside.
Here's (above) a ground view of the same pedestrian street. My preference is to limit the stores to crafts theater: marionettes, puppets, ethnic dancers, magic shows, circus-style acrobatics, small-scale live theater and the like. It would be great if movie theaters and contemporary dance halls were close by, but this street should be reserved for up-close entertainments of a more traditional Japanese sort.
Here (above) you can better see the small stages and balconies reserved for the barkers. I don't see any stairs, so I wonder how customers were expected to enter these shops.
The second floor (above) would offer a superb view of the street and shops.
The facades should all be Japanese, but I picture some of the entertainments as being old European (above).
Some would be European, but most would be Japanese, or at least Asian. Here's (above and below) a couple of pictures of modern-day Hanoi's "Long Water Puppet Theater." Things like this would work well on the arts street.
Do the puppeteers really work underwater?
Many thanks to Craig, who sent me this video clip (above) in a comment. According to Craig the puppets are on long, hollow poles with strings inside, and the puppeteers are standing behind the silk fence in the background.
Old European magic shows (above) are second to none in their appeal to the weird and exotic, so I might throw some of them in there too.
Man, I love magic shows!
I love carnival shows (above), too. Is their any way to integrate American carnival with the Japanese theme? Maybe not.
I can't even imagine Christmas without recalling the story of the Nativity (above, click to enlarge), and the life and death of Christ, which is the great story which for 2000 years has been the heart of Western civilization.
I'm always amazed when fans of art seem to have no time for pictures like the ones on this post. There's always time to stop and admire a devil mask from Pago-Pago, but no time to admire the masterpieces of our own culture.
You would think that the event that would be most remembered in Christ's life would be The Sermon on the Mount which, along with the Ten Commandments, Pericles' Funeral Oration, the Magna Carta, and the Bill of Rights, was one of the foundations of the Western notion of freedom. You would think so, but the events that most inspired artists had to do with themes like birth and death. I guess the heart has its own agenda.
The New Testament only briefly mentions the reaction of Mary to her son's torture and death, but tradition fills in the gap, and most of us have a vivid mental picture of what she must have looked like when she held her son's corpse in her arms.
But maybe I'm getting morbid. That wasn't my intention. I hope everybody reading this has a Wonderful Christmas and a very, very Happy New Year!
BTW: I included The Sermon on the Mount in the list because the high ideals it contains, together with their widespread acceptance, inspires me to believe that my fellow man can handle freedom. I just assumed that what inspired me inspired others as well.
In need of a last-minute gift? Well, look no farther! Thanks to commenter Stephen Rodgers we have the web site of a terrific mapmaker, with an inexpensive product that's bound to please. The site is called "Atlas of True Names"
If I had to buy only one of these true name maps, it might be this one (above) of old Europe.
Here's (above) a detail showing Italy.
The world map's (above) pretty good, too! I wish they'd had a map devoted entirely to the Asian sub-continent. The names are fascinating!
Here's England (above), specifically the area around London. Gee, London wasn't much of a town when some of these names were generated.
Anyway, the site provides the contact info. Prices are in Euros. If I remember right, the price of a large folded map is something like $6, and for an unfolded poster, maybe twice that. I suppose postage is extra. It probably won't arrive by Christmas, but I imagine that it can be mailed directly to the gift recipient, so that'll save some time.
BTW: Here's a link to Bob Dylan's video version of "Must Be Santa." I like this a lot.
I witnessed two generation gaps in my lifetime: the famous one that made a mess of the 60s, and the computer generation gap that rendered half of the skilled oldsters unemployable. These were traumatic events and I never expected to see their like again in my lifetime, but now I'm not so sure. I look into the turbulent mist of my crystal ball, and I see the glimmer of one more gap: the gap between babies being born now, and their Gen Y/Millennial Generation parents. Let me explain.
People now in their twenties grew up with computers. They're not strong on traditional knowledge, but they do know the current programs, and these days that's the key to getting jobs. You've gotta give it to them, they spent the time and effort necessary to learn some pretty esoteric stuff.
And I do mean esoteric. My how-to-learn Photoshop book is 776 pages long, and most of it is dry as moth wings. I grant you that nobody's expected to know everything that's in the book, but you have to know the relevant parts of several programs, and it all adds up.
For an artist in the animation industry, you should know parts of Photoshop, Flash, Illustrator, After Effects and Toon Boom or Maya, and it wouldn't hurt to know a bit of Final Cut, Painter and a host of plug-ins. That's a big investment of time, especially when you consider that you're also expected to know how to draw, color, animate, tell stories, act characters and make cinematic cuts as well.
And that's not all. If you want to get a feel for the intuitive work-arounds that make programs usable then you better spend a certain amount of time playing online games, doing Facebook, file-sharing, resume and web site creation, iTunes, iPhone, Garageband, Word, office networking, digital camera stuff, et al. Whew! I get tired just thinking about it!
The point I'm trying to make is that if you're 20 something then spending a LOT of time with programs is mandatory. If you're a student there's no time for English lit, economics, history, culture, story telling, cartooning and all that. Culture for you is watching The Comedy Channel, if you can find time for it.
Now comes the part about the generation gap. The Millennials and Gen y'ers who are so steeped in program manipulation are going to be in for a big surprise because their kids won't have any desire to learn programs at all. Babies being born now won't need to learn programs. They'll simply tell the computer what they want in vernacular English and the computer will do it. Do you doubt it? Think about it....
Think about the Wulfram (spelled right?) vernacular browser that's on the drawing table now, or all the language recognition and fuzzy logic improvements you've been hearing about. Think about the nano processors people are working on. THAT'S the world your kid is going to grow up in! People will still generate and manipulate programs, but that'll be a niche activity, something only specialists do.
I envision an artist in 2025 making a picture (maybe holographic or virtual) like this: "Computer, give me a cottage like the one in Disney's 'Snow White, ' only give it more of an old master look. Yeah, something like what you just put up only with more contemporary color...and change the shutters to something more flamboyant. No, not that...try a few skewered old Swiss designs. And how 'bout a thatched roof? No, a thicker one. The thatch should look like it was just put on..." It'll all work something like HAL worked in the Kubrick movie. You won't need to know the programs, that's what the computer'll be for.
For your kids generation the content of media will be the big deal, not the process. Where will their parents fit in? Well.....they won't. They really won't. Parents will have spent their entire youth learning programs, and that way of thinking will be completely obsolete, at the consumer level anyway. Unlike their parents, kids will be romantic and literary. They'll ransack history for ideas and inspiration. They'll regard their parents as stupid. God help us, they'll have more in common with their hippie grandparents, if any are still around.