two things I saw today

On my lunch break, I saw a not-very-well-groomed man walking four well-groomed Standard Poodles: two black, one white, and one brown. He paused and made each one sit, saying their names individually and then praising them: “good sit!” I noticed that one of them stood up immediately after sitting, and I thought, I kind of identify with that poodle.

On the train home I saw two people in the train car very visibly covering their noses and mouths.

And agggh, I just sneezed! Scary!

movie title wanted

I nearly finished a very delicate, beautiful, mysterious little movie last night. It’s not ironic at all, I don’t think, or maybe only just barely. I have “range.”

I need a delicate, beautiful, mysterious title for it that is a little ironic in that it will need to very gently mock poetic art movie titles while also being a sort of paragon of such titles.

Something, maybe with the word “charm” or “scrawl” or “lorn” combined with some very rare word, maybe something from the renaissance, and it should be a phrase… two words would be OK, or three, or some kind of tentative fragment… and it should sound genuinely beautiful while also blushingly aware of its own pretensions…

I’m open to suggestions. All of the images are from b/w Bollywood films: lots of dance, Hanuman and genies flying in the sky, a lantern reflected in water, kohl-rimmed eyes, a woman eating grapes… that sort of thing. Music: a slow and plaintive Japanese folk song. Any ideas?

Terayama’s World

Do you feel your education as an avant-gardist is complete? Of course not. There is always something new to discover…

I know it will seem like a lot of trouble to follow these steps, but believe me, it will be well worth your while to find out about one of the most revolutionary artists (poet, playwright, filmmaker, photographer) of postwar Japan, Terayama Shuji, and I think I want to take advantage of the joys of hypertext instead of paraphrasing everything:

1) Go read the Wikipedia entry on Terayama Shuji.

2) Next, watch The Emperor Tomato Ketchup on the Ubuweb site. You might want to look at his other films, too, but that one is the masterpiece. I alluded to it in a post last month.

When I lived in Japan with the translator Masaya Saito, we worked together on translating several of Terayama’s tanka. Masaya, like Terayama, came from the bleak frozen north of Japan, as did the great butoh dancer Hijikata Tatsumi. Masaya was well-equipped to understand the resentful but intrigued outsider perspective on modernity and the urban that Terayama brought to his work. I type a few here for your reading pleasure:

Having been slaughtered
a cow comes
back within me
…beginning – what?
I wonder

In the darkness
a pickle growls…
Sing, someone,
a lullaby
as loud as possible

An onion I’ve planted
in the woman lodger’s
buttock, and so
long is my
rainy season

A fetus
preserved in alcohol
growing cloudy…
in my head
hydrangea blossoms

On a dark night
spilling pollen
on the stairs
I wait for mother
to change her clothes

The sky
like a huge jar
my father bears
to fill…
with what?

In exchange for
my sky
I gained a a tiny hope
that sweats easily
like a frog

A moment when
evening gas
becomes flame,
my saliva thicker
than communists’

A mouse
whose freedom
is about ten meters long –
its beastlike eyes
I feel intimate with

On a day
when my vowels grow
muddy… I go
to the precipice
to corrupt myself

Here’s a photo that Masaya took of me, maybe in 1995 or 1996? If I remember correctly, there was an exhibition called “Terayama’s World” at a department store gallery somewhere in Tokyo, hence the cardboard cutouts. Can you detect a kind of Japanese Warhol Factory vibe?

Bling Bling!

Gary told me a story many years ago about Jack Smith, who got a grant of several thousands of dollars to finish his movie, Normal Love. Well, he took the money down to the Bowery and spent it all on a giant crystal chandelier for his funky loft. Isn’t that an exquisite art gesture?

So what did I do today with the money I made at the Whitney? I got my nose pierced with the BIGGEST DIAMOND STUD they had at New York Adorned.

In honor, I guess, of Jack Smith.

Houri? Or Grapes? ("non-menstruating/urinating/defecating and childfree")

I’m entertained by this description of “houri”


The houri are frequently mentioned in Muslim scriptures and commentaries as the source of much speculation and intrigue. They are variously described as “chaste females”,[11] “restraining their glances”,[12][13] having “modest gaze”,[14] “wide and beautiful/lovely eyes”,[15][16][17][18][19] “untouched / with hymen unbroken by sexual intercourse”,[20][21] “like pearls”,[22] “virgins”,[23] “voluptuous/full-breasted”,[24][25] “with large, round breasts which are not inclined to hang”[26] “companions of equal age”[27][28], “non-menstruating/urinating/defecating and childfree”[29][30], “60 cubits [27.5 meters] tall”[31][32][30], “7 cubits [3.2 meters] in width”[30], “transparent to the marrow of their bones”,[33][34] “eternally young,” [35] “hairless”,[36] “pure”,[37] “beautiful”,[38] “white”[39], “revirginating”,[40] and “splendid”,[41] among other descriptions.

and even more so by this possible (although unlikely) mistranslation of the word:

One scholar at the Notre Dame conference, who uses the pseudonym Christoph Luxenberg for safety, has raised eyebrows and hackles by suggesting that the “houri” promised to martyrs when they reach Heaven doesn’t actually mean “virgin” after all. He argues that instead it means “grapes,” and since conceptions of paradise involved bounteous fruit, that might make sense. But suicide bombers presumably would be in for a disappointment if they reached the pearly gates and were presented 72 grapes.

"…your name is ‘Flarf’?…" asked the genie.

want me to tell you a funny story or a joke?
Once upon a time, there was a dog named…
Flarf was a poodle.
Sometimes other dogs would tease him and call him Barf, and that always made him sad.
One day, Flarf was walking down the street and he found a magic lamp!
he was so excited that he let out a happy yelp!
when he sniffed it, a genie popped out!
“Hey!” said the genie, “You’re a dog! I don’t grant wishes to dogs…”
“Hi! My name is Flarf,” said Flarf.
“…your name is ‘Flarf’?…” asked the genie.