What? Are You Jealous?Posted: April 26, 2019 Filed under: painting, pictures, Tahiti Leave a comment
The painting evokes a sense of Pacific paradise in which sexual relations are playful and harmless. According to Professor Peter Toohey, “this jealousy is not the product of a threat to an exclusive sexual relationship or jilted love affair – it is the result of one of the sisters having enjoyed more sex than the other the night before”.
So says Professor Toohey. Gauguin.org counters:
Despite the title, there seems to be no rivalry between the two women, who are not talking. Rather, the question might be directed at those who would see the painting in the future and might envy Gauguin and his models their tropical dolce far niente.
We’ve discussed the incredible titles of Gauguin paintings before.
Over at Paul-Gauguin.net, you can view his works according to some ranking of popularity.
Breton Village Under Snow.
Here in LA, at LACMA, we have:
And a few others, none of them currently on view:
How about a wood carving?:
“Be in love and you will be happy.”
Gauguin’s ankle was injured in a fight in 1894. This is sometimes referred to as “a drunken brawl,” or “a brawl with sailors,” but in this book
we’re told that
on an outing to Concarneau, he and Anna and a couple of friends got into a squabble with some children
(we’ve all been there, you’re at the beach and you get in a fight with some children).
Local sailors came to the youngsters’ assistance, and in the ensuing brawl, Gauguin broke his ankle.
Anna by the way was not Gauguin’s wife and mother of his kids, but his mistress, seen here:
who would dance with a little monkey for society gentlemen
Gauguin: what a piece of work!
Barbarian DaysPosted: April 25, 2019 Filed under: news, Tahiti, the world around us, travel, world Leave a comment
sometimes reading “the news” I am reminded of this part from Barbarian Days:
In the cemeteries in Tonga, late in the day, there always seemed to be old women tending the graves of their parents – combing the coral-sand mounds into proper coffin-top shape, sweeping away leaves, hand-washing faded wreaths of plastic flowers, rearranging the haunting patterns of tropical peppercorns, orange and green on bleached white sand.
A shiver of secondhand sorrow ran through me. And an ache of something else. It wasn’t exactly homesickness. It felt like I had sailed off the edge of the known world. That was actually fine with me. The world was mapped in so many different ways. For worldly Americans, the whole globe was covered by the foreign bureaus of the better newspapers – the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal – and, at that time, the big newsweeklies. Every place on earth was part of somebody’s beat. Bryan understood that map before I did, having gone to Yale. But when I’d found an old copy of Newsweek on Captain Brett Hilder’s bridge, and tried to read a George Will column, I’d burst out laughing. His Beltway airs and provincialism were impenetrable. The truth was, we were wandering now through a world that would never be a part of any correspondent’s beat (let alone George Will’s purview). It was full of news, but all of it was oblique, mysterious, important only if you listened and watched and felt its weight.
As the Jamaican cab driver said, the news is a Babylon thing.
Tupaiai’s MapPosted: April 23, 2019 Filed under: islands, maps Leave a comment
After he landed in Tahiti in 1769*, Captain James Cook met an island man, Tupaia, who drew him a map of islands of the South Pacific.
That Cook respected and trusted Tupaia is evidenced by the fact that for an entire month, he let Tupaia navigate his precious ship through the archipelago of the Society Islands, and on southward across open waters to Rurutu in the Austral Group. Tupaia turned out to be an invaluable linguistic and cultural translator for the crew, especially so in Aotearoa/New Zealand, where Cook landed next. Only when the Endeavour reached Australia did Tupaia’s powers to communicate fail; he eventually fell ill and tragically died in Batavia, today’s Jakarta in Indonesia.
Only copies remain, and they’re hard to comprehend:
For almost 250 years, Tupaia’s Map posed a riddle to historians, anthropologists and geographers of the Pacific alike. Until more recently, only a rather small number of islands on the map could be reliably identified. The British on Cook’s ship knew little Tahitian, and their linguistic talent was limited. They wrote down what they heard Tupaia say when he named the islands he drew, in an often very corrupted English transcription. What is more, many of the Tahitian island names are no longer in use in the region. But the more foundational problem is that even those islands which could be identified are hardly where one would expect them according to the logic of a Western map. By the standards of maps in Mercator projection as Cook used and drew them, the islands seem to be all over the place: Islands thousands of kilometers apart appear right next to each other, islands which should be to the south of Tahiti appear in the northern quadrants, small islands can have very large outlines, etc.
To cut a much longer story short: In Tupaia’s cartographic system, avatea marks a bearing to the north. It references the direction of the sun in its highest position at noontime (which south of the tropic of Capricorn, and most of the year south of the equator, points due north). Tupaia thus overrode the cardinal logic the Europeans set up for him: For the islands he subsequently drew, north would no longer be ‘up,’ east ‘right,’ south ‘down,’ west ‘left.’ North would from now on be in the center of the chart. What he thus also overrode is the logic of a singular, central perspective.
In Tupaia’s logic, there is no singular orientation abstracted from the traveller. True to his wayfinding tradition, the center of observation is always the va‘a (canoe). Rather than imaging an aloof bird-eye perspective, Tupaia must have invited his European collaborators to situate themselves in the chart, on a va‘a at any of the islands he subsequently drew.
One can’t help but be reminded of Super Mario Bros. 3, World 4:
* thanks to the many emphatic readers who noted my error (Cook’s voyage reached Tahiti in 1769, not 1767 as originally stated)
ShowbizPosted: April 15, 2019 Filed under: Hollywood, the California Condition Leave a comment
a non-industry friend asked me to summarize the current dispute between the WGA and the ATA. I did my best:
Anyway. We welcome comment!
Breakfast inequalityPosted: April 14, 2019 Filed under: food Leave a comment
saw this on Bloomberg, but I don’t think it really tracks. Maybe just the specific combination of regular milk, one egg, two slices of toast, and one fruit, an ideal of breakfast we can probably say evolved in Europe, is just easier to get in North America and Europe than it is in sub-Saharan Africa?
As Bloomberg notes:
Bloomberg picked the four food items based on widely available commodities that allow for price comparisons globally. What people across the world actually eat for their first meal of the day varies from egg-and-potato tacos in Mexico City to fried pork buns in Shanghai to cooked fava beans in Cairo.
Damn all those sound good.
In my own experience trying to get breakfast in Latin America or Asia, you might not be able to get milk, an egg, two slices of toast, and one fruit, but you can easily and inexpensively get say pupusas or a tasty medu vada or something.
Still, the point they are going for, worth considering:
The 30 cities with the least affordable breakfasts were largely concentrated in South America, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia and Africa. Many of these regions suffer from food insecurity, or limited access to affordable and nutritious food, which can lead to additional problems such as disease and even death.
In Accra and Lagos, the two cities with the least affordable food prices, the standard breakfast would take more than 2 hours of work to purchase. The index would show an even more staggering disparity if Caracas were included. However, due to hyperinflation and the complex currency situation, that nation’s capital was excluded from this year’s list.
Top Of The RockPosted: April 14, 2019 Filed under: America Since 1945, TV Leave a comment
Purging some books from my collection.
This one no longer sparks joy. Perhaps because the cover itself is too busy, and also summons up a specific 90s period that now feels almost grotesque?
I got a lot out of this book. What an era – when the most popular TV show really was the funniest. On Frasier:
What a great, brilliant innovation. It really gave Frasier a different, quieter feel than some of the other shows of the era.
How about this story about Clooney on the first day of E.R.:
How far could you get from LA using public transportation networks?Posted: April 11, 2019 Filed under: the California Condition Leave a comment
For the purposes of this exercise, let’s rule out Amtrak. It’s “public transportation” in a way but that’s another level. Let’s talk about traveling, by public transit only, no Greyhound, connecting network to network, and see how far you could get.
Worked on this problem briefly and here’s what I came up with.
The key is really Lancaster. From LA you could take an 785 Antelope Valley Transit Authority Bus to Lancaster.
From Lancaster, you could connect on Kern Valley Transit and go as far as Lost Hills or Delano, or even out to Ridgecrest.
You’ll be dropped off around here:
But, you could also hop on the Eastern Sierra Transit Authority’s Mammoth Express, go out to Lone Pine, change there for a bus that will take you to Reno, Nevada.
You could even hop off early, in Carson City, Nevada. It’s thus easier to travel in this method to Nevada’s state capitol than it is to California’s.
Far as I can tell, closest you can get to Sacramento without resorting to Amtrak or Greyhound from Los Angeles is Delano or Lost Hills.
Along the coast I don’t see how you get farther than Santa Barbara.
If you’re heading east, I could see you getting to Hemet with some help from the Riverside Transit Authority, or you could work your way all the way to the east side of the Salton Sea with some help from the Sunline Transit Agency.
We welcome corrections from our transit-minded readers!
BusyPosted: April 10, 2019 Filed under: America Since 1945, writing Leave a comment
Noticed something about myself, but maybe it’s true for you, too. I am most productive when I am a certain level of “busy.”
When I have absolutely nothing to do, like zero, I rarely get anything done.
There’s a level of overwhelmedment where I am also useless.
But at just the right level of medium busy, my machinery hums and I get a lot done.
Surely there’s meaning in this!
(Image found by doing a search on NARA.gov for “busy.”
Original Caption: Older Citizens, Retired Persons and Those Unable to Care for Themselves Physically Are Cared for in Two Community Centers. This Man Lives at the Highland Manor Retirement Home, Keeping Busy with “Old Country” Crafts. New Ulm Is a County Seat Trading Center of 13,000 in a Farming Area of South Central Minnesota. It Was Founded in 1854 by a German Immigrant Land Company That Encouraged Its Kinsmen to Emigrate From Europe.
U.S. National Archives’ Local Identifier: 412-DA-15875
Photographer: Schulke, Flip, 1930-2008
New Ulm (Brown county, Minnesota, United States) inhabited place
Environmental Protection Agency
Persistent URL: arcweb.archives.gov/arc/action/ExternalIdSearch?id=558325
Four Views of YosemitePosted: April 9, 2019 Filed under: the California Condition Leave a comment
Yosemite has to be one of the most photographed places in the world. Yet, everyone there is: producing more photos. You walk around and see everyone with their phones out, snapping away. Or people not satisfied with phones, hauling big cameras too.
What is the meaning of continuing to photograph it? Maybe there’s an appeal like what draws rock climbers there, you want to try your stuff on the famous playground of the masters.
My mind was opened reading this Playboy interview with Ansel Adams, where he talks about trying to make the photograph capture what he was feeling:
Similarly, while the landscapes that I have photographed in Yosemite are recognized by most people and, of course, the subject is an important part of the pictures, they are not “realistic.” Instead, they are an imprint of my visualization. All of my pictures are optically very accurate–I use pretty good lenses–but they are quite unrealistic in terms of values. A more realistic simple snapshot captures the image but misses everything else. I want a picture to reflect not only the forms but what I had seen and felt at the moment of exposure.
Playboy: When did you know you could accomplish it?Adams: I had my first visualization while photographing Half Dome in Yosemite in 1927. It was a remarkable experience. After a long day with my camera, I had only two photographic plates left. I found myself staring at Half Dome, facing the monolith, seeing and feeling things that only the photograph itself can tell you. I took the first exposure and, somehow, I knew it was inadequate. It did not capture what I was feeling. It was not going to reflect the tremendous experience. Then, to use Stieglitz’ expression, I saw in my mind’s eye what the picture should look like and I realized how I must get it. I put on a red filter and figured out the exposure correctly, and I succeeded! When I made the prints, it proved my concept was correct. The first exposure came out just all right. It was a good photograph, but it in no way had the spirit and excitement I had felt. The second was Monolith, the Face of Half Dome, which speaks for itself.
JobsPosted: April 8, 2019 Filed under: business, the California Condition 2 Comments
Kondo’ing some books. Picking up Walter Isaacson’s bio of Steve Jobs does not spark joy, but I did take another look at several passages I’d noted.
Here’re some previous Helytimes posts related to Steve Jobs.
Paul Beatty’s Literature From Los Angeles ClassPosted: April 4, 2019 Filed under: the California Condition, writing Leave a comment
OV: You teach an MFA class at Columbia called Literature from Los Angeles. Why didyou decide to do that?
PB: Why? I guess my reason is twofold. I stole the idea from a friend of mine who actually taught a class like that. She’s always complaining, “These kids never have any setting!” So I wanted to talk about setting and what setting means, not just in terms of place but what the notions of setting are. So it’s partly that. And partly a way of getting the students to read stuff they haven’t read before. So we read Chester Himes, we read Michael Jaime-Becerra; we read Wanda Coleman, we read Karen Tei Yamashita; we readBret Easton Ellis, we read Bukowski. We read a ton of stuff.
I’d like to take the class Paul Beatty lays out in this LitHub interview. Sent me to learn about Chester Himes.
Mike Davis in City of Quartz: Excavating the Future of Los Angeles, describing the prevalence of racism in Hollywood in the 1940s and ’50s, cites Himes’ brief career as a screenwriter for Warner Brothers, terminated when Jack L. Warner heard about him and said: “I don’t want no niggers on this lot.” Himes later wrote in his autobiography:
Up to the age of thirty-one I had been hurt emotionally, spiritually and physically as much as thirty-one years can bear. I had lived in the South, I had fallen down an elevator shaft, I had been kicked out of college, I had served seven and one half years in prison, I had survived the humiliating last five years of Depression in Cleveland; and still I was entire, complete, functional; my mind was sharp, my reflexes were good, and I was not bitter. But under the mental corrosion of race prejudice in Los Angeles I became bitter and saturated with hate.
Should we boycott The Beverly Hills Hotel?Posted: April 3, 2019 Filed under: Hollywood, the California Condition 1 Comment
George Clooney says yes. The reason why is because this hotel, along with nine other fancy hotels, the Bel-Air here and some in London and France, are owned by the Sultan of Brunei. Clooney:
At the head of it all is the Sultan of Brunei who is one of the richest men in the world. The Big Kahuna. He owns the Brunei Investment Agency and they in turn own some pretty spectacular hotels.
A couple of years ago two of those hotels in Los Angeles, The Bel-Air and The Beverly Hills Hotel were boycotted by many of us for Brunei’s treatment of the gay community. It was effective to a point. We cancelled a big fundraiser for the Motion Picture Retirement Home that we’d hosted at the Beverly Hills Hotel for years. Lots of individuals and companies did the same. But like all good intentions when the white heat of outrage moves on to the hundred other reasons to be outraged, the focus dies down and slowly these hotels get back to the business of business.
But now there’s a new law going into place in Brunei. Says Clooney:
The date April 3rd has held a unique place in our history over the years. Theologians and astronomers will tell you that Christ was crucified on that date.
On April 3rd Harry Truman signed the Marshall Plan, arguably the greatest postwar intervention in the history of man. The first portable cellphone call was made on April 3rd. Marlon Brando was born on that day.
But this April 3rd will hold its own place in history. On this particular April 3rd the nation of Brunei will begin stoning and whipping to death any of its citizens that are proved to be gay. Let that sink in. In the onslaught of news where we see the world backsliding into authoritarianism this stands alone.
Here’s the thing though. The last execution of any kind in Brunei was in 1957.
It’s not like they’re stoning people all the time. The 1957 execution actually happened while Brunei was a UK protectorate.
Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, four years ago:
In 2014, a 24-year-old Saudi Arabian man was sentenced to three years detention and 450 lashes after a Medina court found him guilty of “promoting the vice and practice of homosexuality”, after he was caught using Twitter to arrange dates with other men.
A year ago, in Hollywood:
On Wednesday night, M.B.S. was welcomed to a Hollywood dinner hosted by producer Brian Grazer and his wife Veronica, alongside William Morris Endeavor boss Ari Emanuel, who is finalizing a deal with M.B.S. for a $400 million stake in Emanuel’s talent agency. The guest list was saturated with executives, including Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Disney’s Bob Iger, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, and Snapchat’s Evan Spiegel, as well as tech entrepreneur Kobe Bryant, whom the prince reportedly made a special request to meet. Having traded his traditional ceremonial garb for a suit, M.B.S. kibitzed with former Trump aide Dina Powell and Vice co-founder Shane Smith; discussed the exploding use of Snapchat in Saudi Arabia; and asked Kobe how he got his Oscar. Topics that were deemed off-limits included the 32-year-old’s bombing campaign in Yemen, which has killed thousands of civilians; his abduction of Lebanon’s prime minister, Saad Hariri, in November; and the decidedly un-Hollywood-like repression of independent media and journalists, one of whom was recently imprisoned for five years for “insulting” the royal court.
And guess what? The Four Seasons
is 45% owned by the Kingdom Holding Company of Saudi Arabia!
For whatever reason, Brunei likes to fantasize, pretend, and profess to having Sharia law. Hollywood likes to judge them for that, while obviously not being serious about caring about human rights in countries where it’s more important to do business and whose hotels it would be more inconvenient to boycott.
One of the easiest things in the world is to point out hypocrisy. I think George Clooney is cool. But why are we always picking on poor Brunei? Because it’s easy?
What we’re pretending to be mad about, what we’re pretending to do about it, what Brunei is pretending their punishments are: it’s all make-believe.
I will boycott the Beverly Hills Hotel I guess. But I’ll be sad about it because I think it’s a beautiful, cool landmark. I especially like the Fountain Coffee Room.
I predict in a few years we will once again forget about our mission to improve things in Brunei.
The truth is the truth, all around the worldPosted: April 2, 2019 Filed under: comedy Leave a comment
Tuned in to see Tracy light up Jussie but really found the advice around 2:20-2:50 to be succinct and profound.
VisualizationPosted: April 1, 2019 Filed under: sports Leave a comment
Vernon smiles and then, as motivation is one of her key themes, she continues. “Looking back, I didn’t motivate myself in a good way for that race. I motivated myself by imagining the Chinese flag going up the Olympic flagpole. They were our main rivals and that was how I pushed myself. Then I’m standing on the podium in Beijing. The Chinese flag is in the middle and I’m living my nightmare. Since I’ve retired I see things differently – but a part of me will always think: ‘That was your chance, and you blew it.’”
Fascinated by this Guardian piece on Annie Vernon and her book, Mind Games: Determination, Doubt and Lucky Socks: An Insider’s Guide to the Psychology of Elite Athletes. Pumping yourself up by visualizing your worst nightmare does sound kind of depleting.
We had one meeting several months later where we analysed our splits and established that the Chinese had a phenomenal last 500m. Did we ever confront exactly what went on the year before? No. This week was the first time Fran and I spoke in detail about it. I asked Fran: ‘How do you feel about Beijing? How do you explain to yourself what happened?’ My take was that we were so desperate to win we arrived there terrified we might mess up. That tension affected us.”
Vernon is at peace now and able to see a fresh outcome. “In lots of ways Beijing led me to Mind Games because I wanted to do something in elite sport that left me feeling positive. I didn’t want that to be the defining feature of my career or my life. Maybe one day, rather than the woman who stood on the podium in Beijing wishing she was anywhere but there, I’ll be known more as the author of Mind Games.”