Still Life with Swiss chocolate, Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith, Zurich, 28-Aug-2012

Still Life with Swiss chocolate, Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith

Still Life with Swiss chocolate, Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith, Zurich, 28-Aug-2012

Still Life with Swiss chocolate, Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith, Zurich, 28-Aug-2012

‘Sweets’ is this week’s twitter travel theme for #FriFotos; this was the only image to immediately come to mind. All things considered, nothing was as sweet this year as the few days I spent with Patti Smith‘s memoir, Just Kids. (But yes, the chocolate was pretty good, too.)

Indeed, if I were to put together a list of the best books I read in 2012, Just Kids, published nearly three years ago, would find itself very much alone at the top of that list. It’s a spellbinding account of how Smith and her best friend, the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, ultimately became what they were truly meant to become, beautifully written and recounted with an eloquent innocence of a young poet who didn’t quite realize the history she was living and experiencing when she was just a kid.

To aspiring artists and writers who don’t know much or anything about the genius of Smith and Mapplethorpe or the legend of the Chelsea Hotel or the late 1960s art and music scene in New York City, please read this book and get acquainted. It might be the only ‘How-To’ guide you’ll need.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Missouri school district bans ‘biblically contrary’ novels by Kurt Vonnegut and Sarah Ockler – Kansas City News – Plog

Missouri school district bans ‘biblically contrary’ novels by Kurt Vonnegut and Sarah Ockler – Kansas City News – Plog

This inspired a mouthful of biblically contrary language.

Missouri school district bans ‘biblically contrary’ novels by Kurt Vonnegut and Sarah Ockler – Kansas City News – Plog.

Future Shock, rescued

I rescued this yesterday, a Croatian translation of Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock. If anyone wants to borrow it, lemme know.

Published by Otokar Keršovani, Rijeka, Croatia (then Yugoslavia) in 1975, six years before I first read it in high school. The publishing house was named after a Yugoslav journalist and politician who was shot by the Ustasha regime in July 1941. You learn something new every day!

By the way, I’m always on the lookout for used copies of this for an ongoing project. The more languages, editions and colors, the better.

Bicycle Diaries Audio Book excerpt


Just a few days after Christmas last year, I was slowly worming my way through the security line at Montreal’s airport reading through the last pages of David Byrne’s Bicycle Diaries. The first security guard stopped me to ask just one question:

“So, you’re reading a little Che Guevara?”

I smiled. “No, that was Motorcycle Diaries. This is the self-powered version.”

He laughed, but made me step aside anyway before asking me to empty my entire backpack.

Mostly travelogue, Bicycle Diaries is an interesting, entertaining and snappy read by the former Talking Heads lead man who has, for more than two decades, travelled the world with his own folding bike.  He muses about art, music, fashion, urban design and architecture, and dabbles in some history, religion and politics as well. The chapters on Buenos Aires, Manila and American cities particularly stand out a year later.

There’s a terrific excerpt from the audiobook version of the book on Boing Boing. Even if you’ve read the book, check it out!

Seven Days in the Art World

seven-daysI just finished reading Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton, a fabulous account of a microculture –the high-end modern art world– that 99% of us will never experience.

Those seven days are actually seven chapters, drawn on experiences over five years, a period during which, as Times critic Ben Lewis notes, “art grew from a £2.2 billion industry to a £6.1 billion one, and where prices for some artists’ work increased by factors of between 20 and 80.”

In some respects it’s a breezy travelogue –the book begins with an auction in New York, and spans the globe with stops at the Basel Art Fair, a studio visit to Takashi Murakami in Japan and the Venice Bienale– but also a nicely paced study of the quirky dealers, curators, critics, collectors and hypesters that make up and live in that multi-billion $$ world. Thornton is a trained sociologist but also a journalist, making the quips and quotes culled from hundreds of interviews part reportage and part borderline gossip, and historically relevant as well.

You won’t look at an over-hyped Hirst, or an over-priced piece by a modern artist you’ve never heard off, the same way again.

Eight Years Later

Discussing his latest novel, Man in the Dark, Paul Auster tells The Guardian about the root of his frustrations in recent years.

If there is something getting Auster’s goat, it’s American politics. It was his disgust at the outcome of the 2000 US elections that sparked the story-within-a-story at the heart of Man in the Dark, about a counterfactual US where civil war reigns and New York leads a movement to form the Independent States of America.

“It’s a war of bullets and bombs, whereas the divisions in the US now are similar to a civil war, but we’re fighting it with words and ideas,” he says.

He can pinpoint the idea for his latest story to his “frustration and disgust after the 2000 elections … Gore won, Gore was elected president, and it was taken away from him by political and legal manoeuvering, and ever since then I’ve had this eerie feeling of being in some parallel world, some world we didn’t ask for but we nevertheless got.

More…