Have you ever looked at an alpaca’s face?
Really looked at it?
Nothing about it makes sense! It’s a lanky fluff of peculiar cuteness.
I saw those two at a farm tour before brunch at a sweet little breakfast place upstate. If you find yourself around Hudson/Windham — go!!
Also, upstate, I visited Jack Shainman Gallery's outpost The School. Last time I was there, it was an exhibition of El Anatsui's work and I spent what felt like hours, lost in the intricacy of his work. What I saw this time was a group show, and it was a little heavy on the bold stuff that plays well on the internet but is actually very dull in person. But I appreciated the chance to see even one El Anatsui piece in person again:
Visiting the city for the day, I finally got to see the Hilma af Klint show. (My iPhone wallpaper in person!) I hadn't realized R. H. Quaytman was exhibited as part of the show. This is a good way to go about the "correct the canon" lionization of women no longer with us that's happening in books and art right now: put this work in conversation with a living woman’s work, especially one who could use a boost of attention. Then the agenda is no longer about idealizing someone perfect only in retrospect — a totebag image, rather than a human with needs and faults and rough edges.
This week I read Heike Geissler's Seasonal Associate, about a writer in Germany who ends up broke and employed at an Amazon factory. There are some striking observations (loading up boxes of books from an author she knows personally — "it was as if I were the chambermaid and he were the guest") but I wanted more from it. Still, it's a document of the work. However much we might hear about the Amazon factory workers, it’s not nearly as much about Amazon itself.
One thing, of many, that I find so contemptible about Amazon is how it scaled to encompass more than books in the exact opposite way of a public library. It is the perfect contrast of the expansiveness of belligerent greed versus fragile generosity: Amazon sells books and now whatever else. Libraries offer books and… naloxone, among other services.
The other book I read was My Abandonment by Peter Rock, which was good, but it mostly made me appreciate Leave No Trace all the more for what the director and screenwriter carved from it. Reminded of another "book is always better than movie" counterexample in Morvern Callar.
A few years ago I was invited to part of a fancy thing in Munich and I stayed in a fancy hotel. Outside was a statue of some random German guy from history, and at the base, was an eyesore of balloons and creepy drawings and pictures of Michael Jackson. Finally I asked someone at the hotel what it was doing there. They said it was because the hotel was the last place he slept in Germany before he died. Maybe in Europe before he died. But still….
No one should be that famous.
Stan culture happened long before the internet gave it a name and it’s never been good. When I watched the documentary, I thought of that memorial. (Related note: this is my semi-annual reminder that Scott Heim’s Mysterious Skin was ahead of its time. It should be taught in schools. And the Gregg Araki movie is almost as good.)
I don’t want to set up a Google alert, because what it will bring to my inbox could only be bad, but I hope if I’m ever in Munich again, I will see that memorial is gone.
Thanks for reading.