Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ai Weiwei: According to What? Comes to Brooklyn Museum

Springtime at the Brooklyn Museum is an event in itself with the opening of the first major New York area retrospective if the work of artist Ai Weiwei. Major retrospectives have been shown at the Tate Modern in the UK, at Corcoran in D.C. In the US, and at Mori Art Museum In Tokyo and now he's in NYC. A great exhibition including the major rebar work which a curator indicated is expanded from the piece shown in DC. Also S.A.C.R.E.D., dioramas recounting the artist's arrest and incarceration, which appeared in the VeniceBiennial. 

The museum is the focal point of an amazing amount of first amendment energy as well with Witness: Art and CivilRights  in the Sixties, another powerful collection of art and photos highlighting the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.

Rounding out this energetic season is "Submerged Motherlands" by artist Swoon (Caledonia Dance Curry) addressing climate change. Swoon engages with climate change in the installation as a response to the catastrophic Hurricane Sandy that struck the Atlantic Coast in 2012, and Doggerland, a landmass that once connected Great Britain and Europe and that was destroyed by a tsunami 8,000 years ago.A towering tree and post apocalyptic sea craft dominate this fascinating exhibit.

A trio of "must see" exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum.
--Anthony Napoli
Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"Reconstructing the Universe": Italian Futurism's Paradoxes and New Ideas

"Boxes of love is preserved" is a collection of short stories by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti , originally published in 1927 by the "Art publishing Faun" of Rome . The book, with cover and friezes by Carlo Petrucci and illustrations by Ivo Pannaggi . It's cover seems to lead to the 
Commercial styling and ironies of pop art
especially by Andy Warhol later in the 20th century.
‘Before the Parachute Opens (Prima che si apra il paracadute)’, by Tullio Crali

Italian Futurism: 1909-1944 Reconstructing the Universe at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum gives an exhaustive multimedia look at the roots, development and context of this uniquely creative - and politically unsettled- art movement of early 20th century Italy. Founded by F.T. Marinetti and resulting from the meeting of the Italian avant garde with theFrench  cubists, the movement theorized, proselytized, fabricated, and generally explored the cultural and existential possibilities of the new century, declaring independence from the past and -doldier becoming intertwined with Mussolini and the Fascist movement. 
As an example of the Futurist fascination with action  and danger, Marinetti's "Zang Tumb Tumb" a book recalling the October 1912 battle of Adrianopolis (Turkey) in which he participated as a Futurist-soldier uses "words in freedom" to create a sort of typographic tone poem that exhibits the Futurist  love  of "vitalistic dynamism"--- and war. 

The exhibit explores the ideas, ideology and paradoxes of the movement that formerly ended with the death of its founder,Marinetti, in 1944.  An interesting, richly detailed and in-depth exhibit. Through September 1.

--Anthony Napoli
Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Flatbush Spring: Snow Fields and Japanese Cherry Tree Buds

Photos from Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"They Quit Before They Started Their Search" - Wicked Gravity by the Jim Carroll Band

My high school alma mater, Bishop Ford, Brooklyn, NY is closing. A sigh and a deep breath and the news prompts memory and a plunge back into the music of the Jim Carroll Band. Carroll, in his music, poetry, and novel "The Basketball Diaries" explored the bohemia outside of his white ethnic Catholic upbringing, a constant struggle for alternative, literary and artistic Catholic youth. Carroll's fame was more fleeting but his cultural collisions still have resonance, and, fortunately for him, he managed to survive his rebellion and brushes with art and vision.

RIP Bishop Ford HS 2014. (Carroll died in 2009)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Coda to the Coda: The Federal Government and The Ranchers

Alright then:

UPDATE: Sheriff Announces Bureau of Land Management Will Cease Operation against rancher Clive Bundy over grazing land dispute. 

Checkout the tone of this item from
Info Wars on the conflict. Despite the withdrawal of federal authorities this conflict is likely  over yet.

Coda: Sacred and Profane: Religious freedom and the Waco Disaster

Reflections on reading James Tabor's  and Eugene Gallagher's Why Waco? Cults and the Battle for Religious Freedom in America asks the question why Waco became demonized as a later version of Jonestown when the authors present evidence, including testimony of surviving and former members, that suggests there was no overt "brainwashing" or coercion. The authors further discuss the demonization and intolerance in American society and media toward non-traditional religious groups, pointing out that America itself was colonized by many off shoot-groups seeking religious freedom.

However the authors striving for its own objective and evidentiary review takes its own profound leap of faith when they observe that the focus on the group's possession of an extensive firearms cache is inextricably -- and unfairly to the authors- linked to its unorthodox beliefs. While suspicion of illegal activities may say something about the perpetrators, they write, it should not cast an unfavorable light on the entire group or their beliefs. Controversy surrounds whether some of the weapons held were illegally altered. The cult label also is held to scrutiny as an unfair characterization. 

There are many, many religious groups that function outside of the mainstream. In NYC alone small churches quasi-or un-affiliated abound. There are many Orthodox Jewish groups that exist completely separate from - yet interact with - their surrounding community. I think the isolation of American millennial groups, and their rejection of established laws and societal values, will continue to exist. However I think it will always remain the possession of weapons which bring the groups into direct conflict - from the view point of a power relationship -- with the Secular authorities and will be the key factor and challenge that leads government forces to neutralize and eliminate what is viewed as an armed threat to its authority. 

Nevertheless as Malcolm Gladwell observed in his recent New Yorker essay, and as James Tabor showed as he attempted to work with the Davidian Group and the federal authorities in resolving  the standoff at the time, it is essential for the government to have a more comprehensive and objective view and understanding of the religious and even anti-government groups before acting. Clearly as we see in the current issue over grazing rights in Nevada cults are not always limited to religion and must be understood in their extremism or unorthodoxy before blood - especially that of innocents - is shed.

--Anthony Napoli
Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Friday, April 4, 2014

Remembering Uncle Rocco

A kind and generous heart and loving father and grandfather. Retired FDNY and WW2 US Navy veteran. Rest in Peace.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sacred and Profane: Violence, Vision and the Waco Disaster

More than 2 decades after the stand off at the Waco Branch Davidian compound which led to what appears to have been the avoidable deaths of 74 including 25 children, it remains a subject that continues to resurface as secular mainstream American society continues to attempt to come to terms - or not- with outlying religious groups. In this week's New Yorker Malcolm Gladwell looks at the (mis-) understandings on the part of US federal ATF and FBI officials that contributed to the failure of negotiations to end the standoff and resulted in further violence and death.

Mr Gladwell's article here 

More Details from the James Tabor blog on religion and religious freedom here

--Anthony Napoli

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

When Gravity Fails: Inflation and the Birth of the Universe

Alan Guth was one of the first physicists to hypothesize the existence of inflation, which explains how the universe expanded so uniformly and so quickly in the instant after the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago. Now the evidence may be in.

Front page NY Times story here

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Symbol and Substance: The Semiotics of Governing in NYC

It seems both the City at large, the administration and the media are in a state of flux as the BdB mayoralty moves from the transition to the Real Thing.The gaseous promissory emanations of the end of campaign/early post inaugural moments rise and fall, seeking to move to the solid state and avoid bloviating into a noxious and bilious cloud of disappointment. But that is not unique; it is true of any new administration, at any level and in any place in American politics.

Here in NYC, that scene on the steps of city hall was amusing and a little lame all around -- the reporters who are dogging him squeezing in for a mayoral selfie.. clearly Bloomberg was so inaccessible because of his personal wealth and the powerful political and media minions around to shield him .. Giuliani had his prosecutor's personality and "i dont care/you are the idiot" arrogance..

The fact is BdB "don't got" either of those approaches and he is just going to have to weather these early storms and battles of his administration until hopefully for him  a solid more effective "mayoral" style emerges in his dealing with and image in the media..of course if he has legislative wins and policy successes then the media will know that his admin's seeming "life in a blender" alternately affable/chaotic style is the BdB brand for his way of getting things done. Hopefully that is not overly optimistic.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The 2014 Armory Show: Visual Feasts and Cultural Landscapes

Under Heaven 20121020, Xu Zhen, 2012. FOCUS: China

Flowers, Andy Warhol, 1970. Sims Reed Gallery

Capri Batteries Joseph Beuys 1985 Galerie Thomas

The Armory Show, New York’s leading fair for contemporary and modern art, hosting over 200 leading galleries from 29 countries, opens today. Despite the frigid March temperatures, the Armory Show, which for the first time this year the fair coincides with the opening of the Whitney Biennial, once again serves as an exciting visual and cultural "Spring" and further establishes March in New York as a must-see moment in its annual arts calendar and a cornerstone of the American art market. For the 2014 edition The Armory Show has devoted Armory Focus, the specially curated section of Pier 94 to the contemporary cultural landscape in China, presenting an exciting selection of galleries from the Mainland and Hong Kong. The fair will also launch the inaugural edition of Armory Presents, dedicated to dual and single artist presentations exhibited by galleries under ten years old. The Armory Show–Modern has established a formal Selection Committee of leading dealers and will present its first ever curated exhibition, featuring seminal drawings by female artists of the twentieth century.

Armory Focus: China, the fair’s specially curated section will explore artists working in Chinese contemporary art today. Curated by Philip Tinari, it showcases a selection of 17 established and emerging galleries, providing access to a wide array of contemporary practice in China. Xu Zhen, whose Under Heaven is pictured above, is one such artist worknig in a variety of media nd disciplines, from installation, photography, video to performance and painting. More here and here and here The Armory Focus: China is a fine example of The Armory Show's exploration of new areas, perspectives, sensibilities and forms of contemporary art today.

New York City is Art. Art is New York City. And The Armory Show is New York's annual home to visual feasts and international cultural landscapes of the contemporary art scene and the world of modern art collectors and exhibitors.

For information on tickets, visit The Armory Show website here

Top of the World

Time Magazine's dramatic cover photo of the top of the new 1 World Trade Center/td>

Saturday, March 1, 2014

"The Less I Say About It The Better"

St Vincent and David Byrne perform This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) live 2013
Two very courageous artists at work

Banks at HRA: The deBlasio Administration Selects its Leadership
Like Johnny Caspar the mob boss says in millers crossing "running things, kid, it ain't easy"... Managing and leading is the challenge it will be interesting to see how well Steve Banks does at HR A or if he would have better served on the outside keeping the city's policy In Line and helping to shape it.. One can only hope this is a sincere move, an experiment, on the administration's part and not a cynical effort to coopt potential critics
--Anthony Napoli
Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Current Reading

  • Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War- Tony Horwitz
  • A Sultan in Palermo - Tariq Ali
  • Hitch-22: A Memoir - Christopher Hitchens
  • Negropedia- Patrice Evans
  • Dead Funny: Humor in Nazi Germany - Rudolph Herzog
  • Exile on Main Street - Robert Greenfield
  • Among the Truthers - A Journey Among America's Growing Conspiracist Underworld - Jonathan Kay
  • Paradise Lost - John Milton
  • What Is Your Dangerous Idea? Thinking the Unthinkable - John Brockman
  • Notes from the Edge Times - Daniel Pinchbeck
  • Fringe-ology: How I Can't Explain Away the Unexplainable- Steve Volk
  • Un Juif pour l'exemple (translated as A Jew Must Die )- Jacques Cheesex
  • The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins
  • Pale King - David Foster Wallce
  • David Bowie: Starman bio - Paul Trynka
  • Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat - Andrez Bergen
  • The Future of Nostalgia -Svetlana Boym
  • Living in the End Times - Slavoj ZIzek
  • FIrst as Tragedy Next as Farce - Slavoj Zizek
  • How to Survive a Robot Uprising - Daniel Wilson
  • Where is My Jet Pack? -Daniel Wilson
  • Day of the Oprichniks - Vladimir Sorokin
  • Ice Trilogy - Vladimir Sorokin
  • First Civilizations
  • Oscar Wilde -Andre Maurois
  • The Beats - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • SDS - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • The Unfinished Animal - Theodore Roszak
  • Friends of Eddy Coyle
  • Brooklands -Emily Barton
  • Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter - Seth Grahme-Smith - Entertaining and historical
  • Dictionary of the Khazars - Pavic
  • Sloth-Gilbert Hernandez
  • War and Peace- Leo Tolstoy
  • Charles Addams: An Evilution
  • Life in Ancient Greece
  • Time - Eva Hoffmann
  • Violence - S. Zizek
  • Luba - a graphic novel by Gilbert Hernandez
  • Life in Ancient Egypt
  • Great Apes - Will Self - riveting and disturbing
  • Lost Honor of Katherina Blum - Heinrich Boll - could not put it down
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed (author deserving of new wide readership)
  • Living in Ancient Mesopotomia
  • Landscape in Concrete - Jakov Lind - surreal
  • 'There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbor's Baby'-Ludmilla Petrushevskaya - creepy stories - translation feels literarily "thin"
  • Mythologies - William Butler Yeats (re-read again & again)
  • How German Is It ? - Walter Abish
  • The Book of Genesis - illustrated by R. Crumb - visionary
  • "Flags" - an illustrated encyclopedia - wish I could remember all of these. Flag culture
  • Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Ubik - Philip K. Dick
  • Nobody's Fool - Richard Russo
  • Hitler's Empire - Mark Mazower
  • Nazi Culture - various authors
  • Master Plan: Himmler 's Scholars and the Holocaust - Heather Pringle
  • Eichmann in Jerusalem - Hannah Arendt
  • Living in Ancient Rome
  • Traveling with Herodotus -R. Kapuszynsky
  • Oblivion - David Foster Wallace - Some of his greatest work
  • Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace - still wrestling with this great book
  • Netherland - Joseph O'Neill - staggeringly great read
  • Renegade - The Obama Campaign - Richard Wolffe
  • Mount Analogue - Rene Daumal
  • John Brown
  • Anathem - Neal Stephenson - love Stephenson but tough slogging first few chapters
  • 7 Deadly Sins
  • ALEX COX - Alex Cox
  • FIASCO by Thomas Ricks
  • I, Fellini - Charlotte Chandler & Federico Fellini
  • Best of 20th century alternative history fiction
  • Judah P. Benjamin - Eli Evans - Confederacy's Secretary of State & source of the W.C. Field's exclamation
  • Moscow 2042 - Vladimir Voinovich - Pre-1989 curiosity & entertaining sci fi read; love his portrayal of Solzhenitsyn-like character
  • Gomorrah - Roberto Saviano - Mafia without the It-Am sugar coating. Brutal & disturbing
  • The Sack of Rome - Celebrity+Media+Money=Silvio Berlusconi - Alexander Stille
  • Reporting - David Remnick - terrific journalism
  • Fassbinder
  • Indignation - Philip Roth
  • Rome
  • Let's Go Italy! 2008
  • Italian Phrases for Dummies
  • How to Pack
  • Violence - Slavoj Zizek
  • Dali: Painting & Film
  • The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight - Jimmy Breslin
  • The Good Rat - Jimmy Breslin
  • Spook Country - William Gibson
  • A Blue Hand - The Beats in India - Deborah Baker
  • The Metaphysical Club - Louis Menard
  • Coast of Utopia - Tom Stoppard
  • Physics of the Impossible - Dr. Michio Kaku
  • Managing the Unexpected - Weick & Sutcliffe
  • Wait Til The Midnight Hour - Writings on Black Power
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed
  • Burning Down the Masters' House - Jayson Blair
  • Howl - Allen Ginsberg
  • Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Palace Thief - Ethan Canin
  • John Adams - David McCullough
  • The Wooden Sea - Jonathan Carroll
  • American Gangster - Mark Jacobson
  • Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Gawker Guide to Becoming King of All Media
  • Jews and Power - Ruth Wisse
  • Youth Without Youth - Mircea Eliade
  • A Team of Rivals - Doris Goodwin
  • Ghost Hunters -William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death - Deborah Blum
  • Dream -Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy - Stephen Duncombe
  • Love & Theft - Eric Lott
  • Exit Ghost - Philip Roth
  • Studio A - The Bob Dylan Reader

Current Listening

  • Alexi Murdoch Wait
  • Wilco Summer Teeth
  • Wilco The Album
  • Carmina Burana - Ray Manzarek (& Michael Riesmann)
  • Polyrock - Polyrock
  • 96 Tears - Garland Jeffries
  • Ghost of a Chance Garland Jeffries
  • Yellow Magic Orchestra
  • Mustang Sally Buddy Guy
  • John Lee Hooker
  • Black and White Years
  • Together Through Life - B. Dylan
  • 100 Days 100 Nites - Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
  • DYLAN: 3 disc Greatest...
  • Glassworks - Philip Glass
  • Wild Palms - Soundtrack -Ryuichi Sakamoto
  • Dinah Washington - Best of..
  • Commander Cody& His Lost Planet Airmen Live at Armadillo