Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Libraries / Books / Audiobooks / And One Really Good Read

I have been listening to a lot of audiobooks lately. I just check them out from my local library -- it's a free and absolutely fabulous way to entertain myself + distract myself from my stupid work commute.

I recently checked out the audiobook The Intern's Handbook by John Lago and was listening to it and absolutely LOVING IT, when I noticed that disk two was missing.  @$%^!@&*!@#%^.  Since I am only interested in reading/watching/listening to things that I really like in their ENTIRETY, I returned the audiobook with the missing disc in the library's night dropbox.

The next morning I received a rather threatening voicemail message that went something like this:   "This is _______ from the ___  _______ library branch.  You returned The Intern's Handbook: A John Lago Thriller in our night drop box. You didn't return disc two. You have until the 28th to return the missing disk." CLICK. ?!?!?!??!?!?!

So I called the library to tell them that disc two was missing when I received the audiobook, and the man that answered the phone (pretty sure it was the same dude that left the nasty message) said that I'd have to plead my case explain my situation to the head librarian. So he transferred me over to the head librarian -- I believe her name was BUNNY -- and I explained what happened. She listened in silence and there was a gigantic pause after I stopped talking. She finally exhaled and said, "This all could have been avoided if you had just been honest and explained the situation in person." !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HOLY FUCKING SHIT, A LIBRARIAN WAS SCOLDING ME!!!!!!!! It took all of my willpower NOT to say, "This all could have been avoided if shit-for-brains at the check out desk HAD INSPECTED IT BEFORE HE GAVE IT TO ME AND MADE SURE ALL DISCS WERE ACCOUNTED FOR!!!! But I held my indignation in check because I didn't want my library privileges revoked. So I sucked in my breath, apologized and the librarian sighed and said she considered the case closed. 

Fast forward a couple of months later and I received another threatening voicemail message from the same library dude, stating that they had received an audiobook return from me in their night dropbox, and that a disc was missing.  !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I am absolutely certain that I returned all of the discs.  I am very, very careful about this, particularly given recent history with this library!  So I stopped by the library to talk to them about it, and this is basically what the clerk said, "There is a disc missing.  All we want is the missing disc.  I don't know what you are going to do, but one way or another you need to give us the missing disc.  Buy it on Amazon.  Or Ebay.  Or somewhere.  Just do whatever you have to do to get us the missing disc."  !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  So I had to hunt all over tarnation for this damn audiobook (of course it was an absolutely HORRIBLE audiobook, quite possibly the worst one I have ever checked out).   I finally found a copy of it on Ebay in Australia and had to pay $26 for it.  It took about 10 days to receive it, and I dropped it off with the librarian and everything is fine again, except I am out $26 and I'm pretty sure that little shit front desk clerk has it out for me.  So I no longer go to this particular library branch, even though it is just blocks from my home.  Argh.  

To end this post on a high note, I am going to recommend a book to you: Fup by Jim Dodge.  When I read a book or listen to an audiobook or watch a movie or a tv show, I want to LOVE it.  Absolutely adore it.  This rarely happens.  But this book?  It is the best book that I have read in a long, long, time.  I just loved it.  It is one of those books where you are so excited to read every single word -- you just savor it.  You want to find out what happens, and you are filled with regret that the story will inevitably END.  And of course it did end, and I practically clutched it to my heart after I finished it.  In fact I loved it so much that I wanted to KEEP the actual book that I had checked out from the library (the one pictured below), but I reluctantly returned it.  And I ended up ordering a used copy of it from Amazon, just so that I could read it again and share it with others.   

Check it out at a library if/when you get a chance, and let me know if you like it.  :)

P.S. From now on I only return my library books and audiobooks in person.  NO MORE MISUNDERSTANDINGS/THREATS/FINES are in my future, LAPL.   :)

Monday, March 14, 2016

Laurie Lipton

It's no big secret that I love art, particularly when an artist manages to combine incredible skill + wit + humor. WIN WIN WIN. Today's example of such an artist is Laurie Lipton. She pretty much rules. Her drawings are so tight. So detailed. So carefully done. And -- huge bonus -- her drawings are rather dark and hilarious. And they shine a spotlight onto some of the absurdities/horrors/obsessions in modern day life. Enjoy!

Laurie Lipton was born in New York and began drawing at the age of four. She was the first person to graduate from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pennsylvania with a Fine Arts Degree in Drawing (with honors). She has lived in Holland, Belgium, Germany, France, the UK and has recently moved to Los Angeles after 36 years abroad. Her work has been exhibited extensively throughout Europe and the USA.

Lipton was inspired by the religious paintings of the Flemish School. She tried to teach herself how to paint in the style of the 16th century Dutch Masters and failed. When traveling around Europe as a student, she began developing her very own peculiar drawing technique building up tone with thousands of fine cross-hatching lines like an egg tempera painting. “It’s an insane way to draw”, she says, “but the resulting detail and luminosity is worth the amount of effort. My drawings take longer to create than a painting of equal size and detail.”

“It was all abstract and conceptual art when I attended university. My teachers told me that figurative art went ‘out’ in the Middle Ages and that I should express myself using form and shapes, but splashes on canvas and rocks on the floor bored me. I knew what I wanted: I wanted to create something no one had ever seen before, something that was brewing in the back of my brain. I used to sit for hours in the library copying Durer, Memling, Van Eyck, Goya and Rembrandt. The photographer, Diane Arbus, was another of my inspirations. Her use of black and white hit me at the core of my Being. Black and white is the color of ancient photographs and old TV shows… it is the color of ghosts, longing, time passing, memory, and madness. Black and white ached. I realized that it was perfect for the imagery in my work.”

source for artist info above

images found here and here

On a personal note, I love love love art, but I really don't like going to galleries so much. Museums are so much easier -- they generally have better art, they aren't trying to sell you anything, they aren't trying to determine your income level/purchasing potential, etc. So...I usually avoid going to galleries. But I really wanted to see Laurie Lipton's works in person, so I mustered up a bit of pluck and made my way over to Ace Gallery (one of the biggest, most famous/infamous galleries in Los Angeles). It was pretty easy to find the gallery, and I found metered parking and headed into the building. There was a doorman (?!) that showed me into the elevator -- a tiny/kind of creepy elevator with room for about 2.5 not-too-chubby people. The doorman asked where I was headed, locked us in, and took me up to the second floor. Weird, but he was nice, and he told me that he had had the same job for 40 years. !!!!!!!

The elevator doors opened, and I slid out into the gallery. A couple of gallery chicks were working in the front; one ignored me, and the other one and I exchanged what I refer to as "customer smiles". Fine by me -- if the choices are to be ignored or given a fake, yet polite smile, or be pounced on by an aggressive sales person, I'll take the the fake smile.

Ace Gallery is HUGE. It has a staggering amount of square footage, and I'd say there were 4 or 5 different exhibitions running concurrently. That is nuts. All I could think was WHAT THE HELL DOES THE RENT COST IN THIS JOINT? Just so much space. It was very neat, very tidy, with very nice presentation. The art worked well in the space, and was of high quality.

So, if you are wanting to venture out into the LA gallery scene, Ace Gallery isn't that scary. If I can venture into a gallery, you can too.  If you have the interest.  Clearly I am of the chickenshit variety, but I'm trying to make more of an effort to not be HOBBLED by all of my issues. They just get in the way.

Side note: VISITING galleries is one thing. Working for them (and or letting them represent you as an artist) is another thing. If you are ever looking for a job in the art world in LA, feel free to email me and I'll let you know which galleries, artists and museums have the worst reputations and should be avoided if at all possible. :)