30 September, 2008

f.c.

Today in my Creative Workshop, to help my students better understand the varying creative processes of film making, we made collages of lo-fi, self-made-materials. I called the assignment Severely Pseudo Film Making in Four Movements. I had them conceive an idea in their imaginations (a setting and an object), then write out a description (simulating, at least, the idea of a shooting script), then film it (or, as it were, color pieces of paper, and cut them into shapes), and finally edit it together (in this case, glue it to paper). The assignment was a success. It got the point across, anyway, that film making is a series of creations, rather than just one, ie: drawing, or photography. The students made spirited efforts, and it was exciting.

When I use the terms lo-fi, home-made-material collages, what I mean is that rather than using mass produced images, or pre-dyed construction paper, or any other materials I typically use in my collage work, our only materials were white paper, markers, scissors (no razor baldes), and glue sticks. A stipulation I set was that if the represented object had two tones, like a tree would (green tree part with a brown trunk), one had to use two pieces of paper, coloring one green, one brown, to make a tree; to edit the tree together.

I promise a real exciting post soon about my past weekend and all the things I saw, including one of the most incredible parties I have ever had the pleasure of being invited to. But in the mean time, here's a collage I made this morning with my students. I've titled it F.C., and I've given it to Ciara as a gift. It's of a little fox lost in a big forest, but not really minding it.

In fact, the fox might even be having the best time.

24 September, 2008

ciara and i rode bicycles in paris, and it was fun. also, i like cigarettes?

(pre script: The title to this blog was originally "saturdays=youth," a reference to my Tuesdays=Youth blog post from last June, rather than a direct reference to the m83 album. i'm sure all of you die hards, the Run Just For Fun Heads, would have gotten that reference right off the bat, thinking: oh! cool! jimmy's making a neat-little call back to that one riot of a blog post about eating dirt dogs at the M's game; rather than, oh, this post will probably be about that recent m83 album. i didn't want to risk all my rookie readers completely fouling up a such an easy reference, and subsequently getting discouraged in themselves, second guessing running just for fun all together. so instead, i settled on a more straight forward title which I'm sure you're familiar with by now from the top of the post.)

Saturday:

To begin with, fall flatters Paris in unbelievable ways. Secondly, the only way worth traveling through this old city is by bicycle. On Saturday morning Ciara and I were out of bed, up-and-at'em, by 11, and had figured out how to rent the city bikes by 11:30. (Please, pardon the shitty map, but it may help to make use of it throughout the paragraph.) Ciara and I mounted on our bikes outside her apartment up near Pere Lachaise. We biked down the hill all the way to where the 20th meets the 12th arrondissement. There we ate an absolutely terrific breakfast of crapes, one savory, one sugary. Delicious. We hopped back on the bikes, traversed northwest up to Republique. To get there we spent most of our time cruising Boulevard Voltaire, pedaling past cafes, beneath tall trees as high as the buildings it seemed. The sun fell through in leopard spots. Once we got to Republique (smooshed between Garde de l'Est and Centre Pompidou), our bicycle journey was abruptly haulted by a Techno Parade. A what?

A Techno Parade is something rather special. During the middle of the afternoon, gaggles upon gaggles of young Frenchies were parading through the streets, quite literally dancing alongside converted-into-mini-discotheque-semi-trucks, just inching along, blasting jams. Each truck was equipped with its own DJ; some had fog machines, others had theatrical douche bags hyping up the crowd by chugging Red Bulls. Additionally, every portable discotheque had its own distinct archetype of individuals: the club kids, the no t-shirt dudes, the always-Halloween people, the robots, and my personal favorite, the not-having-very-much-fun estate. This last group's truck was basically just painted black, like a half-assed haunted house at a state fair, and the party people were standing around looking bored, not dancing, not liking being on display; it looked like some were on the phone asking their cooler friends when they were going to show up.

Then, I actually saw an honest-to-God dance off between two gangs of teenage boys. The two contenders danced ferociously, showing off their hottest new moves. In the end, the two rivals won each other's respect, hugged it out, and declared dance as the true victor. No one could argue with either of their moves.

Once Ciara finds a camera cord, I'll be sure to post some snap shots from the event.

We got back onto our bicycles and headed toward the Seine. By now the sun was beginning to slump down into the horizon, making Paris seem like it was surrounded by forest fires, or at least made of unrefined gold. We were Eiffel Tower bound. We rode alongside the Left Bank in the shade. On the otherside of the river the Louvre was glowing and looked warm, an architucure more similar to s'mores than stone. The Seine sparkled! The air got cold. And then out of no where, all of a sudden, the Eiffel Tower appeared. Incidentally, I had no idea until I arrived in Paris that they even had an Eiffel Tower here.

What's most amazing about the Eiffel Tower is how audacious it is. The way it has no actual purpose besides its boldness. It's thrilling, really. At any rate, Ciara and I ate vanilla soft serve and watched kids ride around in little go-carts, the tower as our enormous backdrop.

Here's the kicker of the entire day: As it turns out, I actually am addicted to cigarettes. I didn't think I was because I never crave them, just enjoy'em, but by the evening I had this real gnarly head-ache. Ciara, being the milk to my honey, pointed out that I hadn't had an espresso or a cigarrete all day long. Well, by the time we had realized this most of the tobacs were closed, and in Paris they don't have a Shell station just down the alley like they do back in Bellingham, so I had to have a glass of wine to take the edge off. It worked, but then I was just thirsty and sleepy. Bless her heart, Ludmilla joined us for dinner, and afterwords guided me to a late-night tobac, and my-God-did-I-enter-flavor-country.

Entirely besides the point, I've started really making an effort to answer all questions asked of me by saying (comedic pause, lip smack) lipstick.

ps:
i don't think i have any readers in San Francisco, but, regardless, this is something to get stoked about: October, 5th, 2008, Sangati Center (San Francisco's Indian Classical Music Art House), the world premiere of Sa Vidya Ya Vimuktaye: Knowledge is that which Liberates. This is the documentary Chad and I edited together just before I skipped out for Paris. The website has all the information you need to know about it. October 5th! Try and be there, let me know how it goes!

walking the turtle

It's been just about a week since my dream where I met gravity, formally, for the first time. Earlier this morning I gave my first lecture on the course I've titled, "An Introduction to the French New Wave." This course is structured quite differently from my "Introduction to the Creative Life" course, in that it's academic and I'm a lecturer. In my creative workshop, things are very loose, and I'm letting the structure form itself; academia is quite different. We're discussing ideas and philosophies, I'm using the term "cinematic apparatus" probably too often. I did not know what sort of lecturer I was going to be, but as it turns out: Rather similar to Tony Prichard. This was, of course, a terrific reveal.

Today in class I outlined the course objectives, we briefly went over an essay that explains the French New Wave as an historical movement, and then discussed Jean Vigo's Zero de Conduite. To help explain the auteur theory of the New Wave, I was constantly making reference to early avant garde painters, ideas by Walter Benjamin, and technology and economics. Like Tony Prichard, I taught the entire time with google open, bringing up images by Henri Matisse, Andy Warhol, Morimura, and Edouard Manet. I did my best to explain the avant garde as a love relationship between the past, present, and artistic materials. I did my best to explain distracted viewing in a narrative setting by analyzing Matisse's Red Studio. Then we went over a gaggle of clips from Vigo's film, and discussed how Vigo is not only critiquing authority and dominant culture, but subverting the device of dominant cinema. Vigo is critical of everything, which is why his films are so wonderful, but also powerful, and honest. (favorite line delivered during lecture: Vigo acknowledges his medium as if to say, I love you.)

Right now I have three projects in embryo; two movies, one written journal of sorts. If I can get all three projects done and get my applications for graduate school submitted by December 1st, I will be to the moon. The movies: The first is about a boy and a girl and their relationship in Paris. It's about the ways time bends for affection. The relationship takes place in 6 days, but I want it to have the dramatic arch of a ten year relationship: break ups, loneliness, get-back-togethers, and of course, moving on once the other has found someone else. I realize that this is going to come off farcical, or at least absurd, given the 6 days of the film, and I hope it does. But more I hope it's tender. It will be narrated all through the film, with occasional dialog. This will allow me to have more filming locations, more spontaneity, and freedom in genearl. The other film is about two American roommates living in Paris. Ciara O'Rourke and Stefanie Warmouth are slated to star. Before the film starts the roommates were in some sort of argument that has put their friendship on the rocks. As the film takes place, Ciara's character Lou Lou tries to win back over the heart of Stef's character Mary. It will showcase various locations in Paris, and will hopefully blend documentary and narrative a la bagels/snafu. The journal is going to be a journey into literature. Inspired by my dream about gravity, I'd like to blend together poetry, the essay, and the short story in a surrealistic portrait of my imagination. I'd also like to include drawings and sketches. I think, in the end, it will be a charming and nice chapbook to include on all of my friends' coffee tables.

I agree with you that this post is a little too impersonal, and a little too strictly business. The next time I get the urge to blog I promise it will be about something fun. Like how Ciara and I biked all across Paris, from the eastern suburbs to the Eiffel Tower, got caught in a techno parade, and ate soft serve vanilla ice cream. Or something. Maybe I'll explain what walking the turtle means. But it will be great, I promise. I'll see you then.

17 September, 2008

the secret lives of gravity

I have a very close, intimate relationship with gravity. It sustains me, gets me through the hard times. Sometimes I can feel it on my skin, spooning me, cooing me through the sound and fury; it's absurd for me to feel alone on this Earth (gravity: it is tenacious). But, I'm also aware of gravity's relative indifference toward me; it doesn't feel like we do. Rather, gravity is a machine, fulfilling its various programmed duties, ambivalent to the ways its verbs affect me.

Last night I dreamed I was at the Large Hardon Collider where scientists were conducting their experiments searching for The God Particle. The scientific instruments and gadgets were thrilling with their colors and size. But what was most remarkable about my dream was the discovery the scientists made while I was present: That gravity was alive. The joy on everyone's faces! On a large monitor, magnified perhaps to a googleplex, I could see the active particles that were gravity, alive, moving, and interacting with one another. I looked at my body clinging to the ground, and understood for the first time I was grounded not by a mechanical, unfeeling force, but by the weight of an invisible ocean of life.

How unexpected, I thought. All those times while lying down, feeling my body sink toward the floor, I was in fact being cradled by the brilliant doting of invisible existence. I wondered next if they knew my name.

15 September, 2008

success!

All of my dear friends of Bellingham, WA will be pleased to hear that since moving to Paris, I have upgraded my teeth brushing skill level to expert mode:

ugly ugly carole

(note: The "ugly ugly" bit is taken from an imaginary girfriend of my old roommate and best friend Nick Bild. The joke would be that while I was pining over some sweet sweet girl, Nick would be spending time with Ugly Ugly Carol, which Nick was "just fine with." This Ugly Ugly Carole, it should be understood, is in reality, far from being ugly ugly, as I'm sure Nick's would have been if she existed.)

(incidentally: Nick Bild is funny.)

Let me tell you how I met Carole:

I was finishing up on the toilet (explanation: since arriving in Paris, I’ve given up that vegetarian bag and have returned once again to a more omnivorous diet), when the doorbell rang. During my one week in the apartment no one had yet rang the doorbell, so in the john, I was quite startled. I quickly and embarrassingly gathered up my things, flushed down what needed to be flushed, and ratcheted my belt during my hustle to the door as the doorbell rang again. Through the peephole I saw a remarkable looking young woman and for a split second stopped breathing, quickly recovered, and opened the door.

She was tall and slight, and walked in as though she and I had been friends all along. All of a sudden, I was in a new wave film. While retracing the hall I had just hurried down to greet her, she explained she just needed to pick up a few things. “Has someone been here to clean? The cats have made a mess of this place.”

“No. I’ve heard someone was supposed to be here, but these bastard cats have taken over completely,” I said in response, feigning charm, “One of them puked on the couch today.”

“They were doing that last week, too. I had to clean the couch once a day, nearly,” she said as she walked into my roommate’s bedroom. She reappeared moments later holding a big blue bag. “Do you mind if I have a quick snack?”

She sat at the dining table, plopped her bag onto the table, and pulled out a bottle of carrot juice and a small package of goat cheese; her own portable continental breakfast. I asked her if she’d enjoy any of the stale bread I had sitting in the kitchen, but she declined and pulled out her own.

I should mention that before she asked permission to have a snack, I had asked her out already. I’ll write it as if it were a play to give it a little bit more affect:

Carole comes back into the main room lugging a large, blue suitcase. She wears a large knit cardigan that looks more like a robe than a sweater, undone, with a white linen tank top beneath; blue jeans. Sun enters through the window. Jimmy stands and observes.

Jimmy
Do you think you would like to get a drink sometime?

Carole drops the suitcase to the ground, opens it up, squats down and puts a large white shopping bag inside. While squatting, looking at the bag, Carole considers the proposition.

Carole
Um…

Redirects her attention to Jimmy.

Carole
Sure, why not. But it will have to be next week, I’ll be in Seville until then.

As I was saying, we began to snack and discuss the most interesting topic for anyone in his or her young twenties: ourselves. Carole, also 22, recently got a degree from La Sorbonne in Art History, and starting next year, she’s going to begin studying to become an architect. Her mother is British (which explained why she was speaking perfect English, with a British accent no less), and her father is French. Indeed, at this point, Carole could have asked me to betray the entire world and I would have at the very least seriously considered it.

I did my absolute best to sound interesting and charming. I laid it on as thick as I possibly could without making it look like I was trying; or, rather, without making it look like I was desperately in love with her.

I had to meet Ciara at one, and at this point in my life with Carole it was 12:30. While she was wrapping up her snack I told her I had to go and meet my dear friend near St. Paul. “Oh,” she said, “I’m going that way, too. Here, I’ll travel with you.”

Together we walked to the metro at Place d’Italie. Now, to you rookies back in the States, the number 5 line begins at Place d’Italie: there are two sides to the platform, but the trains go in the same direction on either side. When we arrived the sign read that the next train would be leaving in six minutes. Carole and I stood, leaning against a rail, and talked about the pleasure in making art and thinking in images. What felt like six minutes had passed, and I looked at the sign again, this time it read a flashing 00, meaning that the train we had been waiting for, the train that we had our backs toward this whole time, was leaving. Behind us and the rail we were leaning on, I could hear the doors shut on the metro and the train take off.

I wasn’t actually disappointed, as one could probably imagine, but instead amused, if not thankful. Oh, Carole, I though, this will be quite the tale to tell our children someday. At any rate, we laughed. The sign once again read six minutes.

Carole asked me if the friend I was meeting was French. I explained to her that Ciara and I were friends from home, and that she too had the good fortune to spend the fall in Paris. I asked her the same question. She laughed (I could have died!) before she dropped the bomb on me; before she hit me over the head with an anvil; before she put hemlock in my wine: I’m meeting with this sort of new boyfriend I have.

Acting like I knew all along, like who doesn’t have a boyfriend, why would I be surprised or completely destroyed over that; I told her that sounded fun.

She was very sleepy. She, like me, had been homeless for the better part of a month, not being in any one place for any extended period of time. We climbed onto the metro. I was carrying her bag for her by now. We sat on a bench together. The gentle rocking of the train, accompanied by the accordion being played by someone on the other side of the car, put her to sleep. The train surfaced from below the ground and crossed a bridge over the Seine. The Parisian autumn sun spilled in. Everything was warm.

Right before I got off at the Bastille to transfer lines, she woke up.

“Do be sure to call me next week.”

“Of course,” I told her, “Have a good sleep.”

Dear Lord.

To be continued, obviously…

10 September, 2008

Marco! Polo!

The attendents on my flight from Seattle to London were beyond dreamy. The Spanish one captivated me most of all, and looked as though she could have effortlessly existed in a Julio Medem film. Her jaw had such an elegant line to it, and her cheek bones had such unusual definition. This description makes her face sound bony and unpleasent, but it was everything but. At several points during the flight I contemplated interupting her work to confess my undying love. Alas, no.

For dinner I was fed veggie raviolis which were prepared in this anti-freeze/battery-acid-green pesto sauce that somehow tasted fantastic.

I'm waiting for my flight from London to Paris. The Frenchies around me are already making me feel underdressed.

I feel a lot better than I did 24 hours ago. Sometimes, I suppose, one just needs to hop on a plane and see where it goes.

---- my notebook, written in Heathrow International, Terminal 5.

Travelling was a breeze. Everything went smoothly from the moment I left Yakima, WA, to when I fell asleep à Chez Ciara, as she lullaby'd me by reading aloud the Catcher in the Rye in French. In fact, it was almost astonishing how smooth it all went (especially in comparison with last time). I spent a great deal of time on the airplane fretting and creating stories to tell the French customs officials as to why I was going to be in Paris for four months without a visa, etc. But when it came time to face the music, the woman at customs asked to see my passport, glanced at it, and nodded me through -- the type of head nod typically reserved to indicate back there -- and I was in, literally no questions asked. Voila.

Continuing with the throughline of breeziness: the journey from the airport to my apartment, which I had also been fretting over (explanation: while my roommate did give me our address, front door code, and the floor in which the apartmen resides, she did not inform me with the actual apartment number. What's more, she's out of town until the 14th, so my key to the apartment was with my neighbors, whose apartment number I also never received). I got on the RER train at the airport and was launched into Paris proper, connected directly onto the number 6 line, three or five stops later I was in front of my apartment. I didn't even have to buy a metro ticket; the gates to all the entrances kept opening themselves, announcing me the most charmed person in Ile-de-France.

When I was inside my apartment building, on the floor I was sure I lived on, I took a chance and knocked on one of the three doors available. Swish. A beautiful girl named Eva greeted me, already familiar with this Jzee-mee who stood in front of her, and presented me with the key to my apartment, next door to hers. She was even kind enough to give me a tour of my new home, and introduced me to the cats.

I made my bedroom home, took a shower, and then hopped back onto the Metro to say hello to my friend, and most recently boss, Ludmilla. She was, without a doubt, wonderful to see again. However, by this point in my day I was more or less worthless. I had not found any sleep on the airplane rides, and was exhausted by the time Ludmilla and I began picnicing in her garden beneath all the stars. Her three year old daughter was with us, and was agog by the roaming satellites, exclaiming, "Jimmy! Regarde!"

From Ludmilla's I called Ciara. It was this moment I had been looking forward to the most for weeks, if not months, if not forever. We made plans to meet at her apartment. In my delusionally-tired state, I penned down her address, metro directions, and left Ludmilla's to find my dear friend in this nice city.

I found her apartment, I found her floor, and as I was too tired to deal with a potential mishap this late in the day, so instead of guessing which of the apartment belonged to her on the third floor, I whistled my patent whistle, and like a bee to a flower, Ciara was in my sleepy embrace before I knew what was what.

Today is my third day in Paris. So far things have continued to go fairly well. I had a neat idea for a short film yesterday that I need to do some journaling over later this afternoon and decide if it's worth persuing. I'm going to be productive while I'm here, damn it, no matter how alluring reading in the park may seem.

06 September, 2008

final thoughts on America (for now)

  • Next time I'm in love, I may move a continent, or at least a mountain, to make sure it works.

03 September, 2008

http://www.bummercity.com/

Epistemology is something that fascinates me. Who holds knowledge, how do these powers use it, and more interestingly, how do these powers give it away? The most enchanting step in the long history of humanistic strides, is the recent idea that education should be compulsory and available to all humans regardless of economic background, geographic location, or any physical hurdle that may exist.

Wikipedia, despite its inability to have pin-point precision (it's not an academic journal, nor does it pose to be), is an incredible tool for learning about the world. I won't have enough days in my life to read every article the website offers. What's more, the site continues to grow by the moment, writing itself practically in real time. The breadth of wikipedia's knowledge ranges from extensive summaries of all the major world religions (and beyond!), to presidential campaigns; even articles about some of my friends. It's absolutely astonishing.

However, the website conservapedia was introduced to me earlier this week, and I'm truly blown away. The website exists because of the claim that wikipedia is severly liberal, treats Christians unfairly, and worst of all, is anti-American. The writing on the website seems to be coming from the logical reasoning ability of a fifth grader with a precocious pen.

I promise you, if you get your kicks from getting bummed out, conservapedia is your site. Here are some highlights from a few articles I've found during the past few nights:

welfare: "There is no proof that anyone has ever been helped by welfare."

postmodernism: "Postmodernism is a worldview characterized by atheism and relativism."

feminism: "feminists tend to... prefer shirking traditional gender activities, like baking; seek women in combat in the military just like men, and coed submarines."

barack obama: "If elected, Barack Obama will be the first affirmative action president."

Conservapedia, and our culture of anti-intellectualism and xenophobia, makes me nauseous. I can barely handle it. I just watched Rudy Giuliani give his speech at the RNC: He condescended to describe Obama's Harvard education as elitist, and ridiculed his choice to become a community organizer in the south side of Chicago to the Republican Party's laughter. Education and Caring are out of vogue, and slowly but surely, with conservapedia leading the charge, so goes free knowledge.

While the liberal kool-aide drinkers at wikipedia thought it'd be a good idea to create an online encyclopedia that could exist in any language, and be written by any person, it seems to be quite a bit more in time that conservapedia would write exclusively in English, and threaten lawsuits against those that write entries disagreeable with those in charge; keeping knowledge private property for the exclusive few, rather than public domain for all.