l.a. pros and cons

To repair the irreparable ravages of time

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{ Eighteenth Brumaire, a sculptural installation by Steven Bankhead | Steve Turner Contemporary, until October 8, 2011 }

Only love is real: A story of soulmates reunited

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‘No matter how cynical you become, it’s never enough to keep up.’ –Jane Wagner

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{ Death penalty costs California $184 million a year, study says. That’s more than $4 billion on capital punishment in California since it was reinstated in 1978, or about $308 million for each of the 13 executions carried out since then. | LA Times }

What we have is more sacred than a vow or a ring

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Consumers are hoping to cash in on last week’s state Supreme Court ruling that it’s illegal for retailers to ask customers for their ZIP Codes during credit card transactions, except in limited cases.

More than a dozen new lawsuits have been filed against major chains that do business in California, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Bed Bath & Beyond Inc., Crate & Barrel and Victoria’s Secret. More filings are expected in the coming weeks.

The flurry of litigation stems from a decision last week against Williams-Sonoma Inc. in which the state high court ruled unanimously that ZIP Codes were “personal identification information” that merchants can’t demand from customers under a California consumer privacy law.

{ LA Times | Continue reading }

painting { Balthus, The Street, 1933 }

‘Donc défaire la ressemblance ça a toujours appartenu à l’acte de peindre.’ –Deleuze

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{ I came out the door the other day to find this girl sitting on my steps smoking a joint with a friend. She apologized for smoking there and I said there was no problem until there was a problem which she seemed to like. I told her I liked her tattoos and asked if I could take her picture. She seemed flattered. While photographing her I asked how the LAPD liked her tattoos and she said “Yeah…they like to photograph them too.” | Tracy photographed by Stephen Zeigler }

They’re wounded but they just keep on climbin’, and they sleep by the side of the road

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A long-time Hollywood publicist was fatally shot inside her Mercedes-Benz, which then crashed into a light pole in Beverly Hills. Ronni Chasen, 64, was shot five times in the chest around 12:30 a.m. near Whittier Drive and Sunset Boulevard, according to Beverly Hills police.

Officers responding to the scene found Chasen’s black, late-model E-350 sedan crashed into a light pole on Whittier just south of Sunset. Chasen was taken to Cedars-Sinal Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead, according to the coroner’s office.

Police said they had no information about a suspect or motive for the shooting.

Chasen, the former senior vice president of worldwide publicity at MGM, was a well-known figure in Hollywood film and publicity circles. (…)

Chasen’s death was the third homicide this year in Beverly Hills.

{ Fox | Continue reading }

photo { On May 1, 1947, Evelyn McHale leapt to her death from the observation deck of the Empire State Building. Photographer Robert Wiles took a photo of McHale a few minutes after her death. }

Slightly shopsoiled but you would never notice, seven fingers two and a penny

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{ May 2, 1975: Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, left, and Los Angeles County Supervisor Baxter Ward hold a news conference in an old Pacific Electric tunnel to propose an 80-mile light-rail system that would use the former tunnel for part of its downtown connection. The project was never built. | LA Times | Continue reading }

Talking of one thing or another. Lady’s hand. Which side will she get up?

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SHOW by Henry Horenstein, published by Pond Press, features images of fetish, drag and neo-burlesque performers. Shot in underground clubs in Los Angeles, New York and New Orleans, these intimate and clever black and white photos capture the pasties, fishnets and lipstick kisses of the superstars of neo-burlesque, including Dita Von Teese and Murray Hill.

{ Book Signing and Film Screening of Henry Horenstein’s SHOW, Tuesday, May 11th, 6-8 pm, Clic Gallery, 424 Broome St, NYC }

related { Clic will be presenting a special exhibit of Ron Galella’s most famous shots in June, to coincide with the HBO release of the documentary SMASH HIS CAMERA. }

‘California is a fine place to live–if you happen to be an orange.’ –Fred Allen

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On Monday, more than a year after a man was arrested outside a market in California with a $3.99 bag of Tillamook shredded cheese in his pants he had not paid for, a judge decided to go relatively easy on him, sentencing him to seven years and eight months in jail.

Prosecutors in Yolo County, Calif., outside Sacramento, had originally asked for a life sentence under the state’s “three strikes” law, arguing that the man, Robert Preston Ferguson, was a menace to society because of prior burglary convictions.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

photo { Reto Caduff }

Pragmatism and dreams, delicately intertwined

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As an illustration of the approach to media we are proposing, consider the case of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s election in 2003 to the governorship of California. Schwarzenegger’s victory has often been attributed to his status as a Hollywood star, as if that somehow guaranteed success.

But this explanation, in our view, falls far short. If it were adequate, we would have to explain the fact that the vast majority of governors and other political officeholders in this country are not actors or other media celebrities, but practitioners of that arcane and tedious profession known as the law. If Hollywood stardom were a sufficient condition to attain political office, Congress would be populated by Susan Sarandons and Sylvester Stallones, not Michele Bachmanns and Ed Markeys.

Something other than media stardom was clearly required. And that something was the nature of the legal and political systems that give California such a volatile and populist political culture, namely the rules that allow for popular referendums and, more specifically, make it relatively easy to recall an unpopular governor. California has, in other words, a distinctive set of political mediations in place that promote immediacy in the form of direct democracy and rapid interventions by the electorate. It is difficult to imagine the Schwarzenegger episode occurring in any other state.

{ Critical Terms for Media Studies, edited by W. J. T. Mitchell and Mark B. N. Hansen | The University of Chicago Press | Continue reading }

Hand in glove, we can go wherever we please

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New York übergallerist Jeffrey Deitch is reportedly being ushered in tomorrow as the newest director of Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art. This? Gamechanger.

Electing someone like Deitch, whose clout in the commercial art world is manifest, as head of a major non-profit cultural institution like MOCA, is a bold move by the board. (…)

Deitch is a jack-of-all-trades on the East Coast contemporary art scene, The Godfather of youthful creatives (Kehinde Wiley, Dash Snow, Tauba Auerbach, Ryan McGinness) with a background in corporate business sense (a Harvard MBA, founder of Citibank’s art advisory practice, independent consultant for various well-heeled collectors). He solidified his rep on the downtown arts scene in 1996 with the foundation of Deitch Projects, after running in circles with art world glitterati (Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Julian Schnabel, Francesco Clemente) for twenty years. He is, as New York art critic Jerry Saltz noted, the “consummate insider with credibility and real-world skills,” a player who knows how to make money from art.

Why’s this such a big deal? MOCA—which only survived complete financial meltdown in 2008 thanks to a $30 million infusion from financier Eli Broad—is making a high-profile gamble by appointing Deitch. No other major museum in the United States has tapped a gallery owner as its resident dictator, a position that traditionally relies on an academic tradition of patronage, politics, and presentation. Can someone so skilled in the market sector of the art world switch horses midstream and solicit donations? Can he be accountable to the needs of the board, museum staff, donors, and public at large? Can he helm an exhibition canon that makes art both accessible for the masses and transcendent to the cognoscenti?!

{ Gawker | Continue reading }

The co-chairs of the board of L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art say they were aware from the start that hiring Jeffrey Deitch as MOCA director would raise questions about possible conflicts of interest.

After all, Deitch has made a 30-year career of buying and selling art, turning the inspirations and labors of artists and the desires and calculations of collectors into a lucrative business.

As MOCA’s director, he’ll have the ultimate say over which artists get exhibited — potentially boosting their prestige and asking price. And when MOCA borrows privately owned pieces for its shows, there’s the possibility that being in the public eye in the company of other notable art will make those works more marketable and valuable.

While Deitch has agreed to end his commercial art activities by June 1, when he starts his new job, there’s nothing to stop people from speculating about his decisions.

After helping to introduce Deitch at a news conference at the museum Tuesday, co-chairs Maria Bell and David Johnson said that Deitch is a man of integrity. He would also be violating his employment contract, they said, if he were to use his position to improperly benefit himself or his friends and former business associates.

{ LA Times | Continue reading }

photo { Julie Atlas Muz, Jeffrey Deitch, and Bambi the Mermaid }