“When someone seeks,” said Siddhartha, “then it easily happens that his eyes see only the thing that he seeks, and he is able to find nothing, to take in nothing because he always thinks only about the thing he is seeking, because he has one goal, because he is obsessed with his goal. Seeking means: having a goal. But finding means: being free, being open, having no goal.”
― Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
—–Yeats, The Second Coming
“One swallow does not make a summer,
neither does one fine day;
similarly one day or brief time of happiness does not make a person entirely happy.”
― Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics
They said it would be the last hot weekend – the end of summer.
Dallas Heritage Village
Mac Whitney, Ovilla, Blanco #17, 1985 steel, paint
There is the umbrella. The umbrella lives under the passenger bucket seat and you pull it out at dawn in the spitting rain and roaring cold wind. Your only hope is that it opens and stays more or less together while you trudge your way across the vast tarmac parking lot at your work. If it does its job, you can arrive breathless and plop down in your soulless cubicle with a few square inches of almost dry clothing.
A parasol, on the other hand, is a completely different thing. Darts of flimsy tissue paper and delicate bamboo ribs – it was not made to stand the power of a howling gale. The gentle rays of the sun are all it can deal with – and barely that. It’s a translucent bumbershoot, a portable shade canopy, standing against the day. Its name tells you that it’s for (para) the sun (sol).
But it’s not only for protection. It’s for twirling.
What better attention grabber than a pretty parasol with hand drawn artistic designs carefully chosen to compliment your tattoos? Ink and ink.
I think of the sweaty hut in some faraway land with workers carefully, quickly, hopelessly putting the things together – cutting the paper, stapling the ribs, or brushing out long-practiced patterns across the delicate field – all the same yet each one different.
And here it comes, spinning down the middle of the street.
And all eyes turn.
It even comes to Dallas and Klyde Warren Park
I like the guy in the yellow cowboy hat.
I really enjoyed Red at the Dallas Theater Center’s Wyly Theater.
I have been thinking about Big Bend a lot. I miss the place. I used to go there to reconnect. I need to figure out how to get back.
Sometimes you get ideas that you really like but know they are crazy and will never happen. That’s when you feel stupid.
Sometimes… not too often… you find out that your crazy idea isn’t that insane and that somebody else is trying to actually do it. That’s when you no longer feel stupid, but instead feel lazy, cowardly, and ineffectual.
I’ve read all these – a pretty good list.
That guy Guy Fieri – from that food show that shows him eating all sorts of stuff you should not eat – accomplished a rare feat. He opened a restaurant that garnered a zero star review from the New York Times (read it, it’s well written and pretty funny).
He also neglected to register the whole URL for his restaurant’s name… so somebody else did, and posted a
Shame it’s satire… wouldn’t you want to get something like:
Guy’s Big Balls – $26.95
Snuggle up to two 4-pound Rice-A-Roni crusted mozzarella balls endangered with shaved lamb and pork and blasted with Guy’s signature Cadillac Cream sauce until dripping off the plate. Served Nestled inside a tempura pickle, with a side of maximum-well-done duck skin.
Extra Wet Naps – $3.50.
Like ketchup, sriracha is a generic term, its name coming from a port town in Thailand where the sauce supposedly was conceived. When people in America talk about sriracha, what they’re really talking about is Huy Fong’s version. It’s been name-checked on The Simpsons, is featured prominently on the Food Network, and has inspired a cottage industry of knockoffs, small-batch artisanal homages, and merchandise ranging from iPhone cases to air fresheners to lip balm to sriracha-patterned high heels.
12. “I do things like get in a taxi and say, ‘The library, and step on it.’”
– Infinite Jest (1996)
Just go there and read them all.
Official site: Nasher X-Change
But I think that we are looking at something even deeper than that: the Mandarinization of America.
The Chinese imperial bureaucracy was immensely powerful. Entrance was theoretically open to anyone, from any walk of society–as long as they could pass a very tough examination. The number of passes was tightly restricted to keep the bureaucracy at optimal size.
Passing the tests and becoming a “scholar official” was a ticket to a very good, very secure life. And there is something to like about a system like this . . . especially if you happen to be good at exams. Of course, once you gave the imperial bureaucracy a lot of power, and made entrance into said bureaucracy conditional on passing a tough exam, what you have is . . . a country run by people who think that being good at exams is the most important thing on earth. Sound familiar?
The people who pass these sorts of admissions tests are very clever. But they’re also, as time goes on, increasingly narrow. The way to pass a series of highly competitive exams is to focus every fiber of your being on learning what the authorities want, and giving it to them. To the extent that the “Tiger Mom” phenomenon is actually real, it’s arguably the cultural legacy of the Mandarin system.
In fact, I think that to some extent, the current political wars are a culture war not between social liberals and social conservatives, but between the values of the mandarin system, and the values of those who compete in the very different culture of ordinary businesses–ones outside glamor industries like tech or design.
“There is only one thing I fear in life, my friend: One day, the black will swallow the red.” – John Logan, from Red
It was time for another “Pay What You Can” night at Dallas Theater Center’s Wyly theater. I have seen King Lear and The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity at rock-bottom prices and now watch the web site for any new opportunities.
This go-round is the Tony Award winning play Red, by John Logan. It’s a two man play based on the artist Mark Rothko, set in Rothko’s studio in 1958, during the time he is working on a group of large murals for the new Four Seasons Restaurant in the Seagram Building in New York. Rothko and his fictional assistant, Ken, work and talk about art and life. The overarching conflict between the two is the very acceptance of the commission to decorate the walls of a restaurant frequented by the wealthiest people in the world. Rothko insists it is a subversive act, that he wants to paint, “something that will ruin the appetite of every son-of-a-bitch who ever eats in that room.” Ken counters that Rothko simply wants to feed his ego with the money and fame the prestigious commission offers.
At any rate, I was going alone, and went to catch the train downtown. Since I left from work, I felt underdressed – but that was fine; the crowd for “Pay What You Can” night was motley and wearing all sorts of styles at various levels.
I was interested in the staging of Red. King Lear is still running at the Wyly in the main stage above the lobby (the Wyly is revolutionary in its stacked structure – the lobby is at the bottom, the stage area above, with the support spaces higher up). For Red, they converted the rehearsal hall on the ninth floor into an artist’s studio.
While the patrons attending Lear were entering on the right side of the Lobby, we were divided into groups and sent up elevators to the ninth floor. The tickets had no seat assignments, so the crowd wandered around the edges of the studio, finding chairs lined against the wall on low risers. After I settled in, I noticed the actor playing Rothko silently sitting in a comfortable chair in the center of the room, staring and contemplating one of his in-progress color fields. Finally, the last patron came in looking around, looking lost – I noted his clothing was curiously dated… like something out of the fifties. Suddenly I realized that this was the actor playing the assistant, he spoke to Rothko, and the play began.
The play was simple – only two characters, one set, no intermission. Very intimate – you are there in the studio with the two characters. It was more intellectual than passionate – the only real moments of raw emotion was generated by Ken talking about the death of his parents… and that felt a bit forced. Still, it was enjoyable – the character of Rothko is a grand pompous bully – and a brilliant one. Ken was more of a blank canvass where Rothko would paint with his powerful personality and stubborn ideas, but Ken’s point of view somehow kept winning out in the end.
One highlight was a long, wordless passage where Rothko and Ken together slather the dark crimson undertone on a giant canvas, both working hard, slinging heavy brushfulls of paint in different sections of the wall-sized work, their breathing hard and passionate in the small space. To Rothko his paintings are living things… and he feels responsible for and concerned about their ultimate fate.
There is a lot of talk of the art of the time. It was fascinating how Rothko boasted of how he and the abstract expressionists dethroned Picasso and Matisse (“Nobody even thinks of painting cubism anymore, it’s dead”) and how Ken feels that Pop Art is now overthrowing Rothko.
Ken namedrops Warhol, Johns, Rauschenberg, and Lichtenstein – and Rothko asks, “Lichtenstein, who’s that?”
I was happy when, in my mind I thought, “Comic Books,” and then Ken says, “Comic Books.”
There is a lot of namedropping here, and it helps to know a thing or two about a thing or two – but not so much that it gets in the way of the entertainment.
After the play we rode the elevators back down to the lobby. It was full of patrons from King Lear, which was in intermission. They were all very nattily dressed, formal, seeing and being seen in that Dallas way while we cheapskates skittered away at the edges.
Outside, the glittering canyons of the city were shining at night while torn scraps of low cloud skimmed by overhead, illuminated by the lights below. It was beautiful and a bit of a shock – while the play was going on it was easy to think you were really in a dingy art studio and forget that you were really nine stories in the air in a huge aluminum cube-theater-machine.
Down Flora Street, between the hulking rows of the Arts District public edifices stood the Dallas Museum of Art. Inside, I knew, there was a Rothko painting. I’ve seen it before – but now I want to go back and stare at it for a while, watch it pulse, see it live, think about what the artist was thinking in that dark place where it was painted.