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Friday September 28, 2012

Dragonboat weekend





Wednesday September 26, 2012

Norman Brothers Produce

norman brothers produce

If you should find yourself down in Kendall, there’s a nifty little produce market that you should check out. Norman Brothers is sort of a cross between a Fresh Market and Trader Joe’s (coming to Miami!), but it’s a one-off, family owned place, so it’s got a unique and funky flavor. Right at the entrance there’s a bunch of green ceramic grills for sale. I just snapped a few pictures as I checked it out a few weeks ago:



Tuesday September 25, 2012

The November 6th ballot: part 1: state constitutional amendments

i voted today sticker The good news is that you people are all going to vote this November. You have strong feelings about whether Obama or Romney would make a better president, and it looks like Florida will be the tie breaker.

The bad news is that the ballot will be a doozie. The ballot contents document, with the various questions for each of the municipalities, runs to 100 pages(!), the ballot itself will be 5 pages long, front and back. It’s the longest ballot on record. And remember what these things look like when you get into the voting booth:

sample ballot

One day we’ll get into just printing separate ballots for English, Spanish, and Kreole speakers, and it’ll be a happy day for printing budgets and voter sanity. But for now, there it is, and all we can do is prepare. Let’s look at the proposed state constitution amendments. There are 12. Let’s see how many we can get through in one morning. I’m going to give you the text of the amendment, and tell you how you should vote. Don’t scroll down, you’ll just get dizzy with how much of this there is. Feel free to not read the amendments themselves (because they are HORRIBLE) and you’ll be through it in no time. And by the way, I’m dipping into the Collins Center’s summaries and comments and the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting’s awesome trove of info. Ready? Let’s get busy:

For the love of god click the link and at least scroll through these:



Friday September 21, 2012

Beer snob weekend

beer snob





Thursday September 20, 2012

Optic Nerve 14 at MoCA

Joshua Hagler, The Evangelists

Music videos have given us thirty years of experimental short-form visual imagery. Films have given us a century of innovative narrarative approaches, with non-linear plotlines, surreal imagery, and a host of other effects. And television has spent almost as long feeding us easily digestible morsels of instant visual gratification. Video art has got it tough — it occupies the same screens as these other media, but it must set itself apart, must elevate itself from all of them. And it must do it while occupying the same screens, and in almost all cases with a fraction of the budget. More recently video art has had to contend with YouTube, which allows literally any jerk with a laptop to experiment with time-based visual imagery. Every piece of video art must answer the question before the discussion of its quality even begins: Why is this not a feature film? Why is this not a music video? Why is this not a television program? Why is this not YouTube piffle?

It’s a wonder how often it succeeds. The genre has produced a stream of works that re-imagine what a moving image can mean, and how it can interact with physical space. There is cross pollination between video art and the traditional video forms, but semantically video art has managed to maintain the same distinction between itself and “everything else” that is essential to all contemporary art.

Optic Nerve 14 contained, among much else: Cara Despain’s Timbre, a surreal stop-motion piece set inside a cardboard box and involving the clay heads of two creatures; Bill Fontana’s Acoustical Visions of the Golden Gate Bridge, a three-minute still-cam shot of the underside of the bridge, with car and boat horn sounds; an excerpt from Joshua Hagler’s stunning The Evangelists, in which four computer-enhanced disembodied heads discuss a mysterious religious event (arson on their apartment building, as it turns out); Yuliya Lanina’s Dodo Valse, a beautifully painted, folkloric-themed animation; Liz Rodda’s Cut, in which CG women’s muscles grow as far as the software slider will allow them to grow; Juan Carlos Saldivar’s Shift, a mini-movie with live-actors covered with paper-mache masks; Carmen Tiffany’s The Accident, a grotesque jumble of homemeade pupets in absurdist conversation and other video rift-raft; Dodrigo Valenzuela’s Diamond Box, black and white interviews of, perhaps, Mexican immigrants, each filmed so that you hear their voice as you see their unmoving face; Doug Garth Williams’ Back and Forth, a bit of clever green-screen trickery; and two YouTube style supercuts: one of all the bits of a Bill Cosby where he’s not talking, one of “The End” title cards from the end of movies.

This is the sort of variety that every edition of Optic Nerve brings. And yet the event feels remarkably consistent from year to year. The overall quality of the 15 or so videos, culled from hundreds of submissions, is always remarkable. Each is 5 minutes or less, so the viewer doesn’t get bogged down. And screening video art this way, rather than encountered on a small monitor in a gallery, makes for a compelling experience. MoCA’s no-thrills auditorium is the wrong shape for video screenings, and the production values are not exactly top notch. (This year: audio problems, and a visible computer pointer hitting the play and pause buttons and adjusting volume during the screening.) But the experience is enough like a movie theater to force the viewer’s attention the way a cinematic film does, despite the disparity of the work.

Bonnie Clearwater was shrewd to include the warped perspective of Carlos Rigau on the selection panel for this year. The man is absurdly smart about video art, and I pictured him fighting for inclusion of pieces like The Evangelists and Cut.

For years, Optic Nerve was a fleeting and elusive event: one screening, with an interested audience far beyond its capacity. But it’s improved: the program will be screened again at the De La Cruz space on October 13th. (It will also travel to the Big Screen Plaza in New York City.) Maybe next year MoCA will do a week-long run, which would allow for reviews like this to reach audiences and give them time to react, and would allow people to see it at their leisure, at the expense of some of the special-occasion-ness. We can also hope that MoCA will see fit to add text from the program to the event’s web page for archival purposes.

But mostly we should be grateful that Optic Nerve exists. Since it’s open to submission by anyone, it casts a wide net. It’s exposed several artists who have gone on to great things. And it’s helped raise awareness of video as art, and make the argument for its ongoing vitality (not as foregone conclusion as we might like to think: video was largely diminished in presence at last year’s Art Basel).


Friday September 14, 2012

Optic nerve weekend

optic nerve





Friday September 7, 2012

DWNTWN Art Days weekend

ugly type

So, Downtown Art Days. Let’s take a quick look at how badly these asshats have set this up. This is the retardedly named DWNTWN’s big event weekend-long signature event. (DWNTWN = Downtown Miami’s cultural website, created by the Miami development authority.) Check out their website’s homepage. There it is: “Save the Date/Art Days/Sept 7-8.” Awlright, click there! Hmm… you can’t click that(!!). Ok, click the link right underneath, “See More Events>”. That takes you to this page, on which there is NOTHING about the downtown art days. You can “filter by month” at the bottom, but clicking on “SEP” does NOTHING. Note that all the events on the page have passed. Clicking “CALENDAR” at the top takes you to the same page you’re already on.

AHA! — there’s a link for DWNTWN ART DAYS up there. Hallelujah. Click it. That takes you to this page, which at this point it should not shock you has NO INFORMATION on it. (Remember: this event is so central to this organization that their URL is named after it!) There is a link to a PDF “calendar and map,” and this is where I really start to get mad. Anyway, here’s the PDF. Check it:

Are these people deliberately making this hard because they for some reason want a bad turnout? This is not snark or sarcasm. I am not genuinely wondering. (Please do not tell me that they don’t have the money to do better, because I’m looking at this website, and they have MONEY for DESIGN.) Also, I’ve wasted all my time, so the rest of this guide is going to be abbreviated. I guess you’ll just have to head downtown, find a copy of whatever this PDF looks like when it’s printed, and hope it’s worth your while.





Tuesday September 4, 2012

Get your election on


I know you’re disappointed with Obama. But look, you don’t want Romney and a Republican congress running the country for the country for the next four years. And if you think about it, you don’t want Obama going down as a one-term president.

And here’s the thing: Florida will decide this thing, more than likely. We’re the largest tossup state, and we’ve been picking the president since 1992 (when, amazingly, we voted to give George Bush Sr. a second term).

All of which is to say that you need to get ready to vote. If you’re registering for the first time, the application is at the bottom of this page. You should also fill out one of these if you want to change your party affiliation or if you’re moving. (Though if you’re moving within Dade County, you can just call the elections department, 305-499-VOTE, and they’ll do it over the phone.) If you’re submitting one of these forms anyway, you might consider changing your party affiliation, either to lodge your weak protest against the hegemony of the two-party system or because you’d like to vote in someone else’s primaries (like this year’s Republican primary). You should to enjoy perusing the list of political parties recognized in Florida.

Don’t get purged — make sure your Drivers License is up to date. You can update it through Florida HSMV’s charming Virtual Office. This would also be a decent time to consider becoming a Poll Worker. I bet you have no chance if you don’t speak Spanish or Creole, but you can give it a chance anyway. (As a hint, the link to the voter application PDF is broken at that link. If you click “ESPAÑOL,” you can get the application there.)

Do it today, otherwise you’ll be kicking yourself like those jackasses who voted for Nader in 2000.