Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Feeling in a bit of an Egon Schiele art mood, I decided to play around with gouache (opaque watercolors).

Nostalgia is an odd thing.  It's a reminder of how things were.  It's a longing for a moment.  It's a desire to capture a context.

The San Diego Comic-Con  is based entirely on nostalgia.  That's its currency.  Its heart and brains and lungs and legs.  Comics don't change much.  They're still 22 pages with two staples in the center.  Themes may be updated.  Instead of a superhero lifting a car off a lady, the superhero may now be gay with a sister addicted to heroin.  But in the end, he's still lifting the car off the lady.  Movies are premiered and promoted, but they're based on fifty year old comics and twenty year old books.  Circle back.  It's all about nostalgia.  It all emanates from that base.  That's why visiting Comic-Con can be both exciting and disconcerting.

In a time of war and political polarization, there's something calming about seeing Corey Haim and Corey Feldman together again, sitting at a table and signing copies of the Lost Boys DVD.  When I took a week long driving course at 16, we watched their collaborative effort, License to Drive.  That in turn brings back memories of those summers when life was solely based on working at TCBY, playing home run derby, and drinking Slurpees.  At a table around the corner sat Ms. Daisy Duke herself, Catherine Bach.

Then there are the comics.  The Comic-Con provides a unique environment.  Rare is it that you get such amazing access to industry leaders in any field.  It's fun to walk by tables and see the artists and writers I loved growing up.  But while I recognized the names, I couldn't connect all of the dots.  I couldn't remember which comics they wrote in 1990 when I collected them.  I guess that this is the disconcerting part of nostalgia.   It reminds you that you're getting older and are further removed from those times.  You're detached.

The Comic-Con was absolutely packed and a lot of fun.  I saw some great artwork.  It may be obvious that Star Wars has generated its own economy, but I don't know if people are aware of how vast and pervasive this economy extends.  The tentacles reach far and swing wildly.  You can buy anything you want emblazoned with a Star Wars logo.  Some people base their careers on the fact that they were tangentially associated with one of the movies.  You can get an autograph from the girl who was Jabba the Hut's alien slave girl (not Princess Leia, although Carrie Fisher was there too).  The convention is so enormous that it can quickly become overwhelming.  It helps if you go in with a focus or plan.

One of my favorite artists is Simon Bisley.  If you know him only through his artwork you'll imagine him to be psychotic and menacing.  His artwork can be aggressive, wild, and violent.  It's also engaging, inspired, and brilliant.  Simon brings with him his own mystique and reputation (he's collaborated with Danzig after all).  When I saw him at the Heavy Metal table, he had his expected unkempt spiked hair, goatee, and tank top that displayed his huge arms and extensive tattoos.  I bought one of his books and had him sign it.  Approaching the table, I wasn't sure what to expect, but upon hearing his British accent he seemed more like Jamie Oliver on steroids instead of the wild image that preceeds "the Biz."  He was easy going and funny, but so as to not disappoint,  he did take a swig straight out of a nearly empty vodka bottle before signing my book.

The Comic-Con took up all of Saturday.  So how did I spend Sunday?  By watching the I Love the 80's marathon on VH1.  That nostalgia is a funny thing.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

I found out yesterday that I'll be making a business trip to Nice, France, in two weeks.  I'm very excited.  I've been there once before, during my solo backpack trip through Europe two years ago.  I'm hoping I get a chance to explore.
While I try to suppress the nerd part of my personality, it will erupt in splendid glory when I attend the San Diego Comic-Con this Saturday.  It's an interesting place to people watch and actually quite inspiring to see so many people do what they love.  A lot of great artwork, too.  I didn't go last year, but two years ago I met Paget Brewster (from Friends fame).

I consider myself to be an intelligent guy.  Okay, I'm borderline ├╝ber-genius.  But for every part smart, I'm also a part dumb.  I like artichokes.  I've had them in two different forms: boiled whole, where you pull off a leaf and dip it into a mayonnaise concoction, or the hearts all chopped up and part of another entree.  But I've never followed one form into the other -- whole to heart.  Last night I thought I'd boil an artichoke for an ambiguously healthy snack (while an artichoke is a vegetable, its healthy benefit is probably negated by dipping its leaves into mayonnaise).  After peeling off the last leaf, I was left with the bare stem and base.  My thought was that the heart was simply the part underneath, but it seems like I need an artichoke anatomy book because after disassembling the damn thing I was left with nothing that appeared edible.  Where did the heart go?  There were bits of  'choke dispersed all over my plate, looking like it exploded, but I saw nothing that resembled a core.  I'll require some diagrams with a cross-section view.  I may need to run one through a cat-scan machine.

Went to see local band, Berkley Hart, play at Lestat's.  They had a running theme: duo night.  Not only did they play their own originals, but also performed songs by famous duos.  Among my favorite covers were Hall and Oates', Rich Girl, and Loggins and Messina's, Danny's Song.  They sounded great -- fantastic arrangments.  It was a fun show.  Catch them if you get a chance.
I spent the 4th of July weekend in Chicago.  It's a great city.  I spent an afternoon at the Art Institute of Chicago museum.  Out of all of the museums I've visited, I think that it's my favorite.  Its collection is so diverse and comprehensive, and the museum is arranged wonderfully.  On the other side of the spectrum, I also wandered over to the Museum of Contemporary Art and was disappointed.  Last year they had an amazing exhibit featuring the paintings of John Currin, but this season they displayed mostly conceptual art.  One display involved a piece of wood sitting in the middle of the floor.  My mind just isn't tuned to that type of art.  If a piece of artwork can mean anything, it equivalently also represents nothing. I just didn't feel engaged.  I need to find a connection.  One of the coolest activities in Chicago was taking an architectural boat tour of the city.  The boat meandered along the Chicago River with a tour guide providing information about the passing buildings.  Much like George Costanza, I felt myself wishing I was an architect.  The tour maintained a fascinating balance between art, history, and science.  Good stuff.