This fall, I am teaching Experimental Film at Pratt Institute. It’s one of my favorite classes because many of the films we screened in class were life-changing for me. Last year, when I taught the class, I relied mostly on DVDs to screen the films. To me, that seemed remarkable because a decade ago, many of the filmmakers of the American avant-garde refused to transfer their films to DVD, preferring to rent and sell 16mm prints. However, by the early 2010s, the situation had changed and many of them had embraced the format for reaching a wider audience, although many remain steadfastly opposed to releasing their films on video… so they end up as poor quality transfers on YouTube instead.
The New York film world is going crazy for the John Waters retrospective at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, which starts today and continues into the following weekend. Although I was a rabid fan of Waters’s earliest work and loved screening VHS copies of his films to confused and disgusted friends in college, I don’t consider his work experimental, per se, though it certainly had many anti-commercial tendencies and influenced scores of filmmakers.
In a recent interview with Gothamist’s Rebecca Fishbein, John Waters discusses showing some of his earliest work at the retrospective, including a 16mm print of Mondo Trasho (1969):
I’m going to show one of my very last prints of Mondo Trasho. They might burn up in the projector, but that would be okay because even if they ever even come out again, they’ll never be made on 16mm prints. That’s a thing of the past.
What struck me is his characterization of 16mm as a “thing of the past.” I understand his point: it’s very difficult to find facilities that process 16mm film anymore and the film stock itself is just as scarce. However, many of my students in the experimental film class complained that we watched too many videos of these films and that we should screen actual films in a film class. Last night, I screened a DVD copy of Entr’acte (1924). It was horrible. One of the students jumped into action, verified that Pratt owned a 16mm copy, and we screened that. It was a much better experience.
However, it’s sad to think of 16mm as a dying form. It’s true that we can still screen it in a university course, but it’s also true that we can still study Latin in college, too.
Light Industry is at it again. They will be screening Galaxie, a film I have never seen by Gregory Markopoulos. Markopoulos was one the founding members of the New American Cinema Group, a band of filmmakers who wrote a manifesto, declaring the official cinema of the time to be “out of breath”1, and started one of the longest running distributors of independent and experimental film, The Film-makers Cooperative.
About the film:
In 1966, Gregory Markopoulos filmed portraits of notable figures in the New York art world, including painters, poets, critics, filmmakers, and choreographers. Markopoulos populated his Galaxie with a remarkable constellation of personalities, ranging from those in his immediate circle of filmmakers (Jonas Mekas, Storm de Hirsch, the Kuchar Brothers) to luminaries from other art forms (Jasper Johns, W.H. Auden, Allen Ginsberg). Each is shot with a single roll of 16mm film and, though edited entirely in-camera in the moment of filming, comprises many layers of dense superimpositions that build a complex portrait of the sitter. The subjects were invited to pose in their home or studio, together with personal objects of their choice: Parker Tyler is a seen with a drawing by Tchelitchew, Susan Sontag with photographs of Garbo and Dietrich, Shirley Clarke and Maurice Sendak both with children’s toys, Gregory Battcock with a Christmas card and zebra rug. The film is silent except for the sound of a ritual bell, its number of rings increasing incrementally until 30 chimes accompany the final portrait.
As I don’t have a class on Tuesday evenings, I certainly plan on attending.
- September 16, 2014
- 7:30 PM
- 155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn
My god, what would I do without bicycling? I’d probably have to go on some kind of medication.
My friend Nicole recently lawfully wedded Tom, although their ceremony won’t be until next spring, and they have decided, like any good married couple should, to get the hell out of New York. They will be relocating to Southern California.
As a last hurrah here in the Empire State, they planned a Labor Day weekend in Patchogue, Long Island, where they currently live, with beer at the Blue Point Brewery, bowling at the local alley, and a Saturday BBQ. I was lucky enough to be invited to this weekend of beer, bowling, and BBQ, and, like the cycling glutton that I am, I decided to add another b-word to the mix. I would bike out to Patchogue.
My route from to Patchougue was almost identical to the Ride to Montauk, except that I would only be going one-third of the distance, about fifty miles. It was a train-assisted ride because I had a doctor’s appointment in Manhattan that morning so I was figured it would be easier to start in Jamaica, shaving off some junk miles and to also bypass some Labor Day weekend traffic. I took the F train to Sutphin Blvd and biked south on Sutphin through Jamaica Center onto 109th Ave, then to 137th St, and onto Linden Blvd (which has bike sharrows). After that, I crossed Merrick Ave, which is very familiar to those of us who do the 150-mile Ride to Montauk route, out of Queens and onto Nassau county.
The rest of the route was very familiar to me. I’ve now ridden it twice and have marked it at least four times. It’s one of those routes that I can almost do without a cue sheet.
Since I was not riding very far today, I was able to stop and look around a bit more than usual. I hadn’t realized how pretty the neighborhoods were once we get past Valley Stream and off Merrick Blvd in Lynbrook. There were a few times I wasn’t sure where I was supposed to turn, but thankfully the route marks from the Ride to Montauk, including the ones Andre and I made, were still there.
Another nice aspect about this particular ride is that I had time for a leisurely lunch about half way through. I noticed a sandwich shop in Amityville that looked good and, boy, did it deliver. Here’s a recommendation for KJ’s Heroes in Amityville. Delicious!
The rest of the ride was a breeze, and I, of course, stopped to see my favorite swans in Argyle Lake in Babylon.
Once I got past Babylon, I picked up the pace. This seems consistent with my previous experiences on this ride. It gets easier the further east you go, except for those hills in Montauk.
I arrived in Blue Point at 4:21, nine minutes ahead of my estimated time of arrival. However, it worked out perfectly because as I rolled into the parking lot, my friends were walking in from their car. Talk about timing!
And, of course, I did get a beer or two.
Thanks to my friends, Nicole and Tom, and good luck out west. I really admire your courage to take a plunge like this. I hope to do something like myself in the near future.
An old friend, Matt Dunn, will be showing some new paintings, drawings, and sculptures at a show called “Anti-Analogy” at the Hill Street Country Club, in Oceanside, California.
I won’t be able to the opening since I won’t be in California for the foreseeable future, but if you’re in the area, please stop by and say “hi” to Matt for me, and tell him I sent you.
Bergino Baseball Clubhouse, a shop, event space, and gallery dedicated to baseball is screening some clips from a new documentary on Dock Ellis, a pitcher who famously pitched a no-hitter while on LSD in 1970.
There will also be a panel discussion with the film’s director, Jeffrey Radice, and sports agent, Tom Reich.
- September 4, 2014
- 7:00 PM
- 67 E. 11th St, Manhattan
- Free with RSVP
Remember how Andre and I rode to Peekskill last fall along both the South and North County Trails in Westchester?
We did it again this past Saturday. The two of us had a free day because we’re both kind of over softball, and I insisted that we ride because I needed a break from life. My new counselor agreed that it would be best that I get out and do fun stuff, such as play softball and ride my bike, to take my mind off how hard my life has been for me lately.
We got a late start because Andre insisted on making breakfast, but it was worth it.
We decided that our best bet was to take the subway to Woodland in the Bronx, and catch the South County Trail from there. It was an nice ride, despite fighting a pretty steady headwind most of the way. When we arrived at end of the South County Trail in Elmsford, I remembered that we could break-up the flatness of the ride by heading up Payne Street, east of Route 9A.
For those who aren’t familiar is one of the steepest climbs in Westchester, maximum grade of 12% but I swear that was also the average grade. Andre did really well going up, and I was only about a half minute behind him. That was pretty good because the last time I had to stop and take a breather about 3/4 of the way up. When I joined him at the top and was still panting heavily, I asked him, “Hey, can we stop at a gas station to get some water?” He asked where we could find one, and I replied, “oh, there’s one at the bottom of the hill we just climbed.” Andre had not realized that climbing up Payne was completely unnecessary because just as soon as we went up, we were headed back down the same hill. Sorry, dude.
As usual, we left the trail in Yorktown Heights. This time, however, we took a different route that would put us along the Croton Reservoir. There was some climbing, but for the most part it was a nice ride with lots of rolling hills and some exhilarating downhills. There were also some pretty views of the reservoir.
As I had not taken this route before, I didn’t realize that one of the roads, Montrose Station Road, is closed.
After reviewing some alternate routes, Andre and I decided that we would just attempt to ride through the closed road anyway. “How bad can it really be?”
It’s bad! The road is closed because it isn’t an actual road. It isn’t even a gravel road. It is more of a river bed with tire-shredding rocks along the way.
We attempted to ride this with our road bikes but quickly realized that we were in store for a 1.6 mile hike, in bike shoes, along a very rocky road.
After arriving where the “road” intersects with Washington Street, we cruised downhill for another couple of miles and, voila, we were in Peekskill!
Although it’s not unusual to see bicyclists at the Peekskill Brewery, there were so many bikes hanging outside of the brewery this Saturday that it will only be a matter of time before the Brewery will look like the Runcible Spoon in Nyack, a popular destination for cyclists from New York City who ride up 9W and anger the residents of the Hudson River towns along the way.
If Peekskill is really going to be the new Nyack, the brewery is going to need a bike rack, too.
After a long day on the bike, powered by nothing more than Andre’s breakfast and a Clifbar, I had a pint of my new favorite beer, a pork confit sandwich, and a delicious pickled vegetable plate.
That was all paired with some bittersweet memories, too, because the last two times I was at the Brewery, I was with Sarah.
Andre and I hopped on the 5:35 train back to the city and were both in good spirits upon arriving at Grand Central Terminal, even after my customary train nap between Croton-Harmon and Spuyten Duyvil.
And like every other bicyclist in New York City, I’m sure we’ll be back.
The beginning of the fall semester at CUNY is in three days, and the website that controls everything at CUNY is wreaking havoc yet again.
I tried to get my class roster for the one class I am teaching this semester at Queens College, but CUNYFirst has stymied me twice.
First, I had to change my password because it expires every few months. Since I use 1Password, that’s not that difficult. What takes a long time are two things:
- remembering the password policy (it’s apparently limited to passwords shorter than 13 characters),
- waiting over two minutes for the database to update and allow you to log in with your new credentials
Second, apparently CUNYFirst is completely unavailable to all users.
I can’t tell if the people in the above image are trying to fix the problem or whether they represent the CUNY population who cannot access this all-in-one piece of crapware that handles every single function we do at CUNY. Either way, the image is as uninspired as the software that controls one of the biggest public universities in the country.
Update: CUNYFirst appears to be working now.
After some kvetching on my part and a long-running petition drive, CUNY Queens College has launched a shuttle from Jamaica and Flushing. It will run on a pilot basis from from August 25 to 28. After August 28, students will ride for free, and faculty and staff can buy a sticker to ride the shuttle.
Routes and Schedule
The shuttle service operates weekdays 7 am-11 pm and weekends 7 am-7 pm, covering two routes.
Starting at 7 am, buses will pick up riders every 20 minutes, and transport them to Queens Hall and the Student Union. Travel time to or from Jamaica is approximately 25-30 minutes.
Starting at 7 am, buses will pick up riders every 20 minutes, and will transport them to the Student Union and Queens Hall. Travel time to or from Flushing is approximately 15 minutes.
Cross campus – between Queens Hall and Student Union
Every 20 minutes, riders may go from Queens Hall to the Student Union by taking the Jamaica bus across campus; those who wish to go from the Student Union to Queens Hall may take the Flushing bus.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t help me all that much since I take the E or F train from Forest Hills and then ride the Q64. But because I am not sure where I will end up living in the next few weeks, this might be of some benefit if I have to go to Jamaica or Flushing. For example, if I end up staying in downtown Brooklyn, it might make sense to take the LIRR from Jamaica towards Atlantic Ave. But who knows what my life will be like in the next few weeks.
At least, I can start encouraging students to leave their cars at home and take mass transit to campus.
Light Industry in Brooklyn will be screening two films this coming Tuesday, August 26.
- Maya Deren’s A Study in Choreography for Camera (1945, 16mm, 3 min.)
- Sharon Lockhart’s Goshogaoka (1997, 16mm, 63 min.)
The two films, despite being produced in very different contexts and over fifty years apart, employ film to study the various possibilities of how the human body moves. We even explore some of the “impossibilities,” too.
This was the first procedure to partially remove part of my toenail, in April 2012. Partially removing my toenail has become a yearly ritual.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had some pretty painful ingrown toenails. I even remember getting them as a kid, but I was always able to dig around a bit to get the nail in a good spot. But perhaps in a sign of aging, my ingrown toenails have become so painful that I’ve deferred to the help of medical professionals. About once a year since April 2012, I’ve had a podiatrist essentially give me a high-priced pedicure. A doctor will trim the part of the nail that has worked itself into my skin and then call it a day. I was anxious the first time I had the procedure and was expecting to need help getting home. One friend said that I would need as much as month recovery time. It concerned me so much that I looked into filing a disability insurance claim to help cover my lost wages. However, it wasn’t as bad as all that. After each procedure, I have been able to walk out and even ride my bike home. I felt so good the first time, I even went to the once-monthly Tiki Tuesday night at the Astor Room in Astoria with Sarah and my friend Julia.
Warning: It’s going to get a little gross, here.
But after at least three procedures, most recently in March 2013, I think it’s time to get the problem permanently fixed. I want them to remove the toenails entirely so they may finally grow straight. I also have a few really discolored nails, too. They developed over time, and I neglected them so long, there might be no other way to fix the problem than to get rid of those altogether.
I’m not sure how bad the procedure will be and whether I will be able to walk on my own. When I asked the doctor how much recovery I would need after a complete toenail extraction, she said that it would only require a day or two of convalescence compared to the partial extraction. I am hopeful that means I can at least walk out of the doctor’s office and get around okay, preferably even bike around since it keeps most of my weight off my feet.
My biggest concern at the moment is my recovery. I don’t have a permanent home right now, and I am worried that I might not be able to get to my temporary home. Where will I recover, if it’s as bad as I fear? For the most part, I’ve been able to get by on my own after the previous toenail extractions, I was able to do quite a bit on my own after I dislocated my pinkie last April, and I was able to take care of myself when I had food poisoning in late May. But even through those times, I had someone to take care of me, should I needed help. Right now, I don’t have that, and I really miss it. And I’m scared.