Monday, October 20, 2014

Jon Jost Day

'A figure like Jon Jost probably won't come along again anytime soon. Whether this is a good or bad thing for independent cinema in the U.S. is, quite frankly, an open question. What would the Sundance and Weinstein universe do with someone who has so little use for money, authority or the polite bourgeois pieties that grease the contemporary film industry? Here's a man who would rather walk away from the material trappings of success, so vitally important to so many, in order to make the work he wants to make. Jost works small, so that he can work true.

'And yet he is no romantic Luddite. Everyone adapts. If you go to the website of Jon Jost, one of the most fiercely independent filmmakers the U.S. has ever produced, you will find statements on the virtue of digital imaging tools, along with information about renting or purchasing his films and videos from him directly. This includes recent works, made specifically in and for the DV medium, and Jost's older films, which were shot and edited in either 16mm or 35mm film. While many artists quite understandably lament the inevitable loss of celluloid as a means of aesthetic communication, Jost isn't looking back, except to get those early works out into the world.

'Much of the so-called independent cinema of today wouldn't really be possible without Jost, who spent the 1970s making poetic experimental narratives like Last Chants (for a Slow Dance), Bell Diamond and Slow Moves, usually for a couple thousand dollars apiece. These were films that excavated dominant mythologies, particularly the twin icons of rugged masculinity and the American West, while also finding the time to direct audience attention to the conditions of their making. Actors momentarily slip out of character; a sliver of documentary information disrupts the diegesis; Jost's own voiceover discusses the filmmaking process, etc. Although none of these films ever made it big, Jost managed to get them seen by enough people around the world to make a name for himself. Prominent international critics considered him a rightful American heir to Jean-Luc Godard.

'But Jost never became a Godard-level auteur, for reasons too complicated to broach here. Suffice to say, Jost always has been and undoubtedly remains a complicated and difficult person. This difficulty, and Jost's attempt to contextualize it in a broader social and political sense, is the crux of Speaking Directly. His debut feature is a kind of rigorously self-examining essay film, in which Jost pulls apart the very foundations of who he is, what a film is, and whether communication between a filmmaker and his audience is even possible. Deeply frustrating at times, the film aims to frustrate, to make the most basic aspects of the filmgoing act thick with communicative resistance.' -- Nashville Scene



Jon Jost Official Website
Jon Jost @ IMDb
Jon Jost's Weblog
'6 Filmmaking Tips Directly From Indie Pioneer Jon Jost'
'Jon Jost Retires (Sort Of)'
'Coming to Terms: Diary of a film'
Jon Jost @ Twitter
'The Big Circus' by Jon Jost
Jon Jost's films @ Strictly Film School
'Notes from Practice' by Jon Jost
'Except for a handful of movies Hollywood is fake'
'Seventy years of Jon Jost'
'Never let Mark Rappaport or Jon Jost leave their junk at your house'
'A “Digital Art Revolution” Interview with Artist Jon Jost'
'American film maker accuses Portugal's press'


The Director Talks: Jon Jost

Jon Jost's portrait by Gérard Courant (1982 - silent)

Digital Dancing with Jon Jost

Sequence from Jon Jost's 'Swimming in Nebraska'

Jon Jost interviewed in 2013


Your approach to narrative filmmaking is really interesting for its production method: having no real hard and fast script that actors have to follow, but also, using a lot of non-actors.

Jon Jost: Sometimes.

Oh, yeah?

JJ: Well, I've made tightly-scripted ones too.

Oh, I didn't realize that. But you do use a lot of non-actors and usually that's associated with a sort of documentary aesthetic. Did you ever perceive it as such?

JJ: I'm not certain what I perceived at the time I made them. For example, when I say I made tightly scripted films, most of my earlier films-the short films, not the very first short films, but the ones where I started working with sound-were tightly scripted essentially for economic reasons because the first take was always "the" take unless something horrible technical thing happened and made it unacceptable. A practice which I continued with because I think if you prepare right, your first take should be the good take. So I started that-the surest way to be able to make the film-with what were the very, very limited means I had. Then, you know, Speaking Directly, is not a fiction film, it's an essay film-it was essentially all written visually; it wasn't all completely preconceived. Angel City (1977) was all scripted except for one deliberately improvised sequence. And then Last Chants for a Slow Dance (1977) was more or less completely improvised around a careful plan. You know, here's the five scenes we're going to do, and this is going to do this, and this is going to do that. There was writing involved, but it was a sort of mixture: some of it was written, some of it was to be left open.

And I discovered that I could improvise. If I did the improvising right, I didn't have to do more takes than I did with a script. And then I saw the virtues of improvising: I got things that I saw immediately that I would have never gotten if I had written it and they'd practiced it. There were usually things I found that were in effect more attractive and interesting to me. I then veered off towards improvising in a very open way. I think that a lot of people when they watch these, they would never imagine they were improvised because they don't see anything sloppy or out of control. It's a very clean, lush, seemingly highly controlled work which never had a word on paper about it. Some of the best scenes in it were absolutely wide-open improvising and on the first take. The kind of thing where if you try to do it again, you would just fuck it up-the first take has the magic.

But then The Bed You Sleep In (1993) was scripted, or it was mostly scripted. The word part, like the script, was the dialogue for a handful of scenes without any visual thing; the visual stuff was lots of photographs done with lots of thinking about what to do and how to do it. Maybe little sketches on paper, but never really done while shooting. The actual thing was more spontaneous: "Okay, now we have this very clear idea, lets go find the shots that look right for this thing." For a period I was adamant about only improvising, and now I like whatever works. We're doing this scene tightly scripted, the whole movie tightly scripted-whatever works best, I do that.

Working with non-actors wasn't thought of so much this way at the time. The non-actors were my friends who were willing to be in a movie for free. Later on, I saw what I liked in working with them and got where I liked it. I liked what happened when we juxtaposed a non-actor with an actor. Often times the non-actors feel insecure because they have this supposed professional who supposedly knows what they're doing. I like what the amateur does to the professional because real professionals are essentially lazy. They have their little grab bag of actoring tricks and if you put them with another actor they'll ping pong back and forth their little actor tricks, something I don't like very much. Whereas when you put an actor up with an amateur or a non-professional, he can't assume that if he throws out a riff he'll get back the corresponding actorish thing. So suddenly actors have to start thinking and quit being lazy because they basically have a loose cannon opposite them. I like the shift that it causes in the actors, eliminating the kind of predictable things that they would do if they were working with other actors. It gets sort of jostled around a bit and makes them work a little harder.

Obviously your interests as a filmmaker have gravitated towards narrative modes and I have two questions starting with that point. One is why you made Speaking Directly? It seems like a blip, a diversion compared to where you seemed to be going everywhere else.

JJ: Well, if you saw my short films you would see they are very much connected to that one. They're just sort of loose, lyrical, sort of urban or place portraits. The one that I'm also in is a kind of vague self- portrait. You know, it's like just before I went to prison: I did the portrait of Chicago in my sort of depressing-but-at-the-same-time- lyrical style. And so I would say the early, or the short films wandered between either completely abstract things, the sort of people-in-a-place type of thing, and attempts at some kind of essays or little stories. Usually the stories were crossed over with essays and Speaking Directly is pretty much an amalgamation of all those things. If you saw my short films, and you saw Speaking Directly, you'd see that there was a pretty natural progression that got me there.

Angel City was a narrative inside some kind of essay/documentary about Los Angeles. That's why The Last Chants for a Slow Dance is more of a straight, experimental narrative-I kept with the narrative, and had a little less essay. And then there is Chameleon (1978) which is again a more or less narrative work, and then Stagefright (1981), a very experimental essay. So it alternates, part of it just to make it interesting for myself. I keep feeling like I got to shuffle the deck, because otherwise I'd get bored. I'm always mentally or literally working on two or three things simultaneously: films, plus painting, plus whatever it is I can manage to do and. Teresa (my wife) can't understand how I can juggle all of these things-she has to sit there and say, "Okay, I'm going to think about 'X' for the next year and a half and do that." I'm just the opposite. I don't have that capacity to concentrate on one thing-to keep it interesting for me, I have to do a bunch of things at the same time, otherwise I get bored.

The other question I have deals with the fact that most people who have economic concerns as artists usually turn to video pretty quickly, but you've only done this very recently. And, at least as far as I know, you've embraced digital video in a big way. But before this did you have a kind of repulsion to the video image that so many people have?

JJ: I didn't have a repulsion, or I didn't think I did. On Plain Talk & Common Sense (1987, shown at YIDFF '89), for example, there is a kind of raggedy sequence of multiple video screens, which was just a cheap way to get multiple images that I could do at the time. I had a VHS camera at the time that I took around America when I was filming. I didn't shoot much with it, I confess. I got Hi-8 cameras more or less as soon as they came out and had very much the same idea that some people did. George Kuchar made these all in-camera edited things because you have insert editing, and I had exactly the same idea, though a completely different approach. I find his approach much more interesting than mine was.

We showed Cult of the Cubicles at the last Festival.

JJ: I like his stuff. I particularly like one called Weather Diary-it's like a 90-minute thing completely done in-camera. It's a stunningly beautiful piece of work. Vulgar, as usual for him, but . . .

Toilets, Godzillas, and toenails.

JJ: But a lovely piece and with a completely different mentality than mine. Mine was "Okay, now you can do this"; it was like I was reverting to the way I started making sound films. It was like, we program very clearly what we want; we have a little latitude about when to cut in and cut out and we can go drop something in the middle. But I never made anything. I've had four Hi-8 cameras and I more or less gave them all away to people, to filmmakers who could no longer afford to make films but whose work I liked. I would end up giving them a Hi-8 camera preaching how good it was and get them to try it out. To my knowledge it didn't succeed. It sort of succeeded with one but her camera got stolen about four months ago. She had it for a number of years and she did thank me for getting her her eyes back. She is very poor and she hadn't shot something for some time and I gave her the camera; she has nice vision of some things and she did a fair amount of footage.

While I had these cameras I shot a little bit, but I never seemed to be able to concentrate. I convinced myself that the problem was that I was so habituated to the economic clip of filmmaking that when it wasn't super costly, my brain took a walk. So I was convinced that the reason I couldn't really do something on the Hi-8 was because I'm not worried about spending money.


JJ: Well, that was the logic I had and I promise you that I was 100 percent convinced that this was the explanation. I would tell my friends how good Hi-8 was and I was proselytizing for Hi-8 for the reason that you could blow it up to 35mm if you want and it looks good-which it does. But since I never did anything with it, I constructed this rationale that said I don't like what I'm doing with it because I'm not working hard on it.

And then DV came out. Well, DV tape cost marginally more than Hi-8 tape, but not much, and all of a sudden I'm going, "Wow." Obviously I didn't think Hi-8 looked as good as it should. You know, the quantum jump from Hi-8 or even better forms of video to digital video is so big. That's why I don't like it when people here say about London Brief, "You have this video." I cringe, not because I have something against video, but because I would much rather say, "I see you did a new digital piece." I would like to get rid of this because when people think video, they think a particular look, either a raggedy, horrible VHS or equivalent look from an artsy angle or the Betacam, normal TV sterile look. As far as I'm concerned, digital video just doesn't look like that. I don't like to have this sort of albatross of the word "video" stuck on it because people have an instant pre-conception.

Sounds like a repulsion to video to me.

JJ: Well, no, I don't mind video. Well, frankly, let's put it this way. It isn't that I don't like video for aesthetic qualities. What I don't like about most video is that I don't think much of it is very good. Because video is relatively cheap, it isn't punishing from a financial standpoint, and thus it doesn't squeeze out people who are no good. Basically it is that brutal. And so you get an awful lot of bad video. I'm not interested in wading through a hundred hours of bad video to see one good hour, and that's really the kind of ratio you get when you hit video. With film, it's more like twenty hours to get one good hour. The ratio is pretty different. And lots of it is because video is more accessible for financial reasons. Therefore you get people sticking around in it and getting away with it for a long time. I could name a few right here. Ricky Leacock for example. He doesn't have an eye, you know. He's been proselytizing for Hi-8 for a long time. Trouble is I'm not interested in looking at pictures of his friends, of completely mundane images. It's like the democratic idea that since pencils are cheap, everybody can write. But not everybody is a good writer. Frankly, I'm not interested in reading bad writing, I'm interested in reading the good writing.

I'm not sure I buy your ratios. There are certainly a lot of bad films.

JJ: I agree. But I think just for pure economic reasons, you can make a bad video for twenty dollars. You cannot make a bad movie for twenty dollars. I mean a bad, feature-length-type movie. If you make one or two bad movies, you'll get tired of spending your own money and getting no reward for it. Or other people will say, "We gave you money once, we gave you money twice, and you gave us a piece of shit once, you gave us a piece of shit twice. And we're not going to give you any more money."

I've been on the festival circuit for years and the hot kids of 1970, 1980, 1985, and 1990 are usually around for three years and I never see them again. Because maybe they made one interesting quirk film and then that was it. Festivals show lots of bad films: the kid went through the festival circuit this year and then you never see him again because he made another bad film and nobody is interested. There's always a new kid coming up. You never see them because they don't do it again: the reward didn't work. I think the people who hang on in the film world are much more restricted; it's more punishing because of the money and because it's literally far more complicated and cumbersome to do film.

Any kind of film is complicated while you can easily tape.

JJ: Right. With film, you've got to buy the film, you've got to put it in the camera, you've got to shoot, you've got to carefully take it to the lab and hope they don't fuck up, and you've got to get it back. And you have to have a support apparatus even if it works. It's punishing if it isn't rewarding. Whereas, you know, with video, you've got your sound and you've got your picture for the price of pushing a button.

You know, I like the fact that you brought up Kuchar because I think what's really special about him is that he's the person using Hi-8 who has really figured out what it's all about. And you can tell it in his work. Everything he does with it is so specific to Hi-8 and not any other medium. It's just spectacular. So, now you're making a distinction here between Hi-8 and digital video. What do you see that is specific about digital, especially the way you've used it?

JJ: Oh, image and sound quality.

12 of Jon Jost's 36 films

Speaking Directly (1973)
'Jon Jost’s SPEAKING DIRECTLY is a feature length autobiographical essay or, as the title indicates, cinematographic notes giving a personal and political reflection on contemporary U.S. life. In particular, Jost examines the relations between our personal lives, U.S. international politics, the media, modes of discourse, and our relation to our geography, our towns and landscape. The film is divided into two major sections: I-THEY and I-YOU. In the I-THEY half, Jost traces out his and our individual connection to the externals of U.S. life. He traces the geography that impinges on us—Jost’s rural Oregon and Vietnam. He examines the concept of home—both one’s house and the United States as a whole. And he traces the connections between oneself and the people one knows directly and indirectly—Jost’s personal acquaintances, and Kissinger and Nixon. We see the “there” of Vietnam, the artifacts of U.S. culture, Nixon and Kissinger, and U.S. economics and imperialism in images which make us question the media representation of these aspects of our lives, realities which our society makes it so hard to grasp directly. Jost contrasts one’s experience of reality with the reified media version of it. Where SPEAKING DIRECTLY works the best, we not only criticize the media versions but also question our and others experiences.' -- Julia Lesage, Jump Cut


Angel City (1977)
'Jost's outsider is Frank Goya, a guy with a red shirt, a far-fucking-out-in-the-morning-man delivery, and a fist full of Polaroid snapshots. Ever-cool Goya peers into the camera, announces that he's a motel-haunting divorce-dick and from then on Angel City is kabuki Raymond Chandler. Hired by the chairman of the world's largest multi-national conglomerate to investigate the death of his wife (a former Plaything centerfold who only "came after you hit her"), Goya drives around LA, interviews a bartender, is seduced by the chairman's mistress, solves the case, and gets beat up for his bother.' -- J. Hoberman, Village Voice


Slow Moves (1983)
'Fascinating, oddly gripping and often visually stunning. It's not unlike a Peter Greenaway mystery translated to the dry dusty heartlands of Malick's Badlands, although here the emphasis is on spiritual paralysis rather than Greenaway's elegant intellectual conceits. Written backwards from its explosive end, the real Slow Moves doesn't actually start until you're leaving the cinema.' -- John Gill, Time Out, London



Rembrandt Laughing (1989)
'This film is a portrait of the passage of one year in the lives of some San Francisco friends, circa 1988 (before the dot.coming of the city), a slow marijuana hazed story which drifts like the fabled fog, encompassing the quirks and habits of a generation that made the city theirs, if only for a while. Very obliquely Rembrandt Laughing sketches the time and place, encompassing the AIDS epidemic, the casual sexual revolution, the debris of '68 lingering in the air. A quiet, very San Francisco comedy of life among a small group of friends. Rembrandt Laughing was improvised over the period of about a month by Jost and his friends, mostly acting non-professionals.' -- JJ

Watch the trailer here

Sure Fire (1990)
'With David Lynch and Gus Van Sant, Jon Jost is one of the three great U.S. filmmakers currently working. This stunning film, about two interlocking families, marshals an array of avant-garde techniques to convey the inner turmoils of its characters. (More than any other American filmmaker, Jost refutes the idea that interiority is off-limits to cinema.) Yet, Jost also brings documentary realism to Sure Fire. It’s a visionary work that fashions a metaphor for American dismay and desolation out of what may seem initially an unhappy case far afield from our own (presumably) solid, secure lives.' -- Dennis Grunes


All the Vermeers in New York (1990)
'The woman pauses before a painting by Vermeer, and looks closely at it - she seems ready almost to disappear into it. The man observes her. He follows her from one room in the museum to another. Then back again. It is a quiet, subtle chase something like the long opening sequence of Brian De Palma's Dressed to Kill, but this is not a thriller, it's a strange, introspective cat-and-mouse game by Jon Jost, whose All the Vermeers in New York is the kind of film you have to think and think about, and then finally you realize you admire it. Jon Jost has been making films since 1974, at first with the anti-war collective Newsreel. I've seen only a few of his films, and thought of him as an "underground" filmmaker, if that word still has any meaning. But this film, beautifully photographed and acted with calm grace, is frankly aimed at the commercial theatrical market; in approach and subject matter, he falls somewhere between Woody Allen's non-comedies and Eric Rohmer.' -- Roger Ebert

Excerpt & interview with Jon Jost

The Bed You Sleep In (1993)
'Created by one of America's most prominent independent filmmakers, THE BED YOU SLEEP IN is an unforgettable, beautifully structured and exquisitely photographed epic tragedy set in a small lumber town in Oregon. Ray (Tom Blair), a struggling lumber mill owner, and his wife Jean (Ellen McLaughlin) receive a letter from their daughter at college accusing Ray of shocking sexual abuses. As the family is torn apart by surfacing secrets and lies, the cataclysm echoes throughout the community and ultimately reveals the apocalyptic betrayal of America.' -- Fandor



6 Easy Pieces (2000)
'6 Easy Pieces is a compilation of shots and sequences made over the period 1996 - 1999, which seemed to find themselves draw together by a kind of gravitational attraction. The work is intended as a kind of sampler of the potential aesthetic range of DV and consumer-level NLE systems, though, of course, it is not merely a technical or aesthetic demonstration. It is also a commentary on contemporary arts, past history, creative energies, society, and, shall we say, a grab-bag of the author’s interests, from social observations to the usage of symmetry in religious architecture and music. The work was, more so than the two previous works done in DV, a deeper exploration into the shifts which digital media provoke - not only aesthetically, but, owing to the radically altered financial aspect, to the mode of working and thinking itself. I did not intend to make 6 Easy Pieces: not one shot was made with any intention of using it in a film or with an a priori idea. Rather they were made in process of experimenting with the medium, and it was only after they had been made, and were sitting in the back shelf of my mind that that found a connection and meaning for themselves. This mode of working and of approaching “work” has been for me invigorating creatively and, if you will, spiritually.' -- JJ

Watch the trailer here

Over Here (2007)
'A long shot with a kind of grunge music hovering over it of a distraught man's face. A young man sits in a coffee house observing. A few people talk with a French man about politics. A businessman gets a call and must go away on urgent business. A woman closes her notebook and takes her coffee cup to the counter. The young man deftly moves and steals her computer. On a Saturday morning a business executive sits listening to sports and gets a call canceling a game; his associate sits in a cubicle typing distractedly. The two have a conversation about the webpage, about a young man the worker has picked up "to help." The boss is revealed to be a Vietnam vet, and tells his associate he's a copyrighter, not a social worker and to get the young man out of his house. The young man lounges around in a nice house, drinking whiskey and watching to TV. His host makes coffee and frets in the kitchen. He then comes to ask the young man to look harder for a job, to help keep the house clean, and he asks where his telephone card and I-pod are. The young man is angered. Later while the young man is on a massage lounger the copyrighter comes to tell him a long family story and then says he's missing an heirloom and he can no longer trust the man. The young man attacks, strangling him on the floor while cursing "fucking hadji" and leaves the man, perhaps dead. The young man visits his home, sitting silently with his inarticulate parents. In a triptych reminiscent of a religious altar piece, the young man breaks down while his parents look incomprehendingly on offering a mute love, but the young man leaves. The young man is seen under an overpass, homeless, with a young woman sleeping in his lap; he looks guardedly around, and then directly to the viewer.' -- JJ


Parable (2008)
'Jon Jost’s films have always tended toward parable. Now this is the case again with Parable, the jewel of his Fuck Bush (He Fucked Us) Trilogy. (This overarching title is mine.) Homecoming (2004) homed in on the aftermath of a returning dead soldier; Over Here (2007), of a returning living soldier. Now Jost turns to the Bush-Cheney & Co. assault on individual rights and freedom, its devastation of these, and the linkage between this war at home, on the American citizenry, with the illusory nature of American hopes and promises predating Bush 43. Jost’s parable is a perfect one: crystal-clear, yet elusive, mysterious, irreducible, unfathomable. It was videographed in Lincoln in, as Jost puts it, “the Time of Bush.”' -- Dennis Grunes


The Narcissus Flowers of Katsura-shima (2012)
'A year after Japan’s major earthquake and tsunami, art about the event is beginning to emerge. The Narcissus Flowers of Katsura-shima, a documentary by American film artist Jon Jost, takes an oblique, even elegiac approach. Combining shots of Japanese island landscapes, Japanese poetry, and interviews with island residents who lived near the quake’s epicenter, The Narcissus Flowers of Katsura-shima is as much a portrait of a place as it is of the people who make their home there. With this moving film, Jost has given us a window into their experiences from an unexpected and compelling angle.' --


Coming to Terms (2013)
'In 2013, Jon Jost had been active for 50 years as a filmmaker. This led him to wonder whether there had been any point in it all, and Coming to Terms is the indirect answer to that question. An old man (filmmaker James Benning) calls his broken family back together: his two sons with whom he hasn’t spoken for years, as he was unable to accept their choices in life, and their two mothers. While the sons and mothers wonder why they have been called together, the father prepares for their arrival. Jost throws off traditional narrative conventions in order to penetrate to the emotional core of this meditation on death. The conversations between the family members, reproduced in unusual digital compositions, are juxtaposed with tranquil, deserted shots of houses and streets in an undefined American city. It gives the film a grand allure and ensures that the story is implicitly about the greater American family.' -- Rotterdam Film Festival



p.s. Hey. ** Kiddiepunk, Hey. Punkster! Thank you. Is London rockin' due to you? Yes. xx. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi, David. Oh, you know how my posts work. I speak through my borrowings, but I'm very happy to talk about her with you too. 'Severed Heads' looks super interesting, thank you! Everyone, courtesy of Mr. E., why not click this and go see/read a little something called 'Photographing the Guillotine'? I'll go check my email as soon as I'm out of here. ** Derek McCormack, Derek! I'm thinking about you big time during this pale Parisian version of the Halloween season. I'm going to see David A.'s retrospective tomorrow. Excited! Are you great? Yes. ** Sypha, Hi, James. Little House on the Bowery is on a long hiatus, but it's not dead. There's just came a point where I realized that I don't have the time and energy to devote myself to the series in a way that seems fair to the books that I would publish, and I don't want to do it if I can't support the books full-on. Akashic wants me to continue it, and we've been in contact in the last month to talk about how we could do that, and hopefully we'll sort something out because I do love doing the imprint. ** Etc etc etc, Hi, Casey. Sure, having stuff pre-pubbed always helps a mss., though I don't think it's as important as it used to be back when journals and mags were strictly IRL. But yeah. I've never heard of 'Listen Up Philip. Hm, sounds a real mixed blessing. I don't know. I'll find the trailer and try to see what's what. Yeah, looking forward to NYC, even if it'll probably a weird, repeating sideswipe-type of thing, but yeah. And especially for Iceland right afterwards. Holler back! ** Steevee, Hi. Glad you slept. That does sound quite Von Trierian, ha ha. You hated 'Birdman', interesting. Okay, so why do you think it is that so many critics are going so crazy about it? Really, I've read raves of a rare, very rave-y nature about it. I don't think I'll see it, but, as I said, I like Michael Keaton, so I am happy that he's getting so many props after so long. ** Bernard Welt, Holy shit, Bernard! You're here! You'll be at that 30th thing! I'll get to see you albeit in a stressed state! Cool! I've been super wondering what was going on with you and the Corcoran based on reading what I've been able to able to about the takeover, etc. So far, so nervously okay? I know, I haven't seen in a billion years, it sucks! What don't you cook up that Paris in the summer scheme 'cos I really want to see you a lot better than I will in that glance on the 30th? Apply for a Recollects residency, why don't you? I can't get you in, snap! I think of you always too, my pal. Big love, me. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. It will be awfully nice to finally get to see the much, much vaunted and anticipated thing at last, wow! ** Jeffrey Coleman, Hi, Jeff. Cool, I haven't heard Martin's new album. I'll get it if he doesn't send it to me. Or, wait, bandcamp awaits either way. I like David Peak's writing a whole lot. He's great. And I've been wanting to read 'Glowing in the Dark' very much. I'll take your mention as the symbolic button to push re: ordering it. Jesus, what kind of sentence was that?! Best to you, man. ** James, Hi. Yeah, editing a film is easily as laborious as editing a novel. Or it is in this case because our film will be a lot about the editing, which needs to be very intricate and timed carefully and thought out. It's in the contract that the film has to be feature length, which means at least 70 minutes. I have no idea how long it will end up being. We'll find out. It won't be really long, that's for sure, because both Zac, who makes the final decision on the editing, and I are very into concision. I have a lifelong shortish attention span re: books. Not with movies so much. I could watch a film doing basically nothing for hours and hours if the right director did the nothing. Thanks re: the editing. We've had so many delays, and I'm very excited to start too, any minute/day now. ** Paul Curran, Hi, Paul! Thanks about my Halloween build-up! Decorated! Pix per chance? Find any Halloween things out in Tokyo yet? ** L@rstonovich, Larsto! Buddy boy! Oh, man, I'm sorry to read about the not great mentally thing. If you want or need to blab or share or anything, I'm your ears, now and eternally. Lots of love from me! ** Thomas Moronic, Hi, T. Oh, interesting, cool, about the performance artist interview. I would imagine that your imagination took care of it. Don't let the real get in its way. Tinker, tinker, man! My weekend was nice, thank you, and yours? ** Mark Gluth, Hi, Mark! Thank you again so incredibly much for letting the blog be one of your novel's welcome mats! And the novel is just mindbogglingly great! Wish I could've been at the launch, duh. R&R stuff in LA? Wow. Well, you know I'm all about Halloween, and the place is currently beset with spooky houses, so, you know ... Will you see Joel? He'll know stuff. Man, have the greatest time! ** Jebus, Hi, J! Really great to see you, man! It's an extraordinary novel, you'll see. All does sound very well there, and it resembles here, where things are also very well. Cool. Take care! ** Kier, Hi, ... oh, shit, my cleverness is still in hibernation. I'm going to write up a name game list for future reference. Make sure that the pie is heated and has that scoop of vanilla ice cream. If there was any justice or a God or whatever, 'Brando' would be the number 1 single in every country in the world, I reckon. Everything black? Ooh. Those photos of the installation that you put on Facebook were awesome to see! My weekend was ... hm, what happened? Kind of blurry. Work and stuff. Making plans. It was weirdly summery here in the good way. But not a huge amount actually happened, I don't think. Oh, there was this boy staying here with his family for a while. I might have mentioned him here, I can't remember. He was a skateboarder. Italian. He accidentally skateboarded onto the canal. He always asked me for cigarettes, and I was a bad guy and would give them to him even though he was, like, 14 years-old or something. Anyway, he and his family moved out on Sunday, and he left the Recollects a gift: this really large, like, 6 feet tall sculpture that he just planted next to the front door. It was crazy. Multi-tiered, and he took all these glass plates and added to them and connected them with I guess blown glass and melted glass drippings and made all these Minecraft figures and tableaus and interspersed them in the sculpture. It was amazing. I don't know what's going to happen to it when the janitor arrives this morning. So, that was a highlight. Oh, and I saw a really bad movie: that new biopic of Yves Saint Laurent. I think it's just called 'Saint Laurent' or something. There wasn't a single interesting decision or shot or performance in the entire movie. It was dumb and boring every second. I don't recommend it, ha ha. Mm, hm, yeah, I guess I didn't do very much because I'm drawing an almost total blank. I think I just worked on stuff mostly. Weird. Stuff's happening today, though, so I'll tell you about that. Did Monday bring about anything of interest or even non-interest in your world? ** Chilly Jay Chill, Hi, Jeff! Welcome back! Very, very cool about the productive time at the residency and about all the novel progress! Maine, interesting. Good old Gregory. Give him my hugs. 'Tabu' sounds vaguely familiar, but that's about it. Huh. I'll seek it out for sure, thank you! The novel is basically still on hold by necessity until I get the new Gisele piece pretty much finished because I know if I start working on it, I won't want to do anything else. It's burning a huge hole in my head. I hope to be going wild inside it again very, very soon. ** Damien Ark, Hi, Damien. I hope you're doing great! ** Schlix, Hi, Uli. Yeah, I'm way busy, work-wise. It's taxing, but it's very cool for sure. It would be really great if you could see the premiere in Halle. It would be so nice to see you! I'll have to ask Gisele about the other future dates for 'The Pyre', I don't know. It has proven to be a toughie for touring because the stage set is so massive and technologically complex that it costs a lot to move it around. So that's been a problem. And that's one of the reasons we're making a new piece whose only set is a bunch folding chairs, ha ha. ** Keaton, Ooh, another great one! Your Halloween thing, I mean. You should really do a big, expensive coffee table art book of these or something. Everyone, Halloween's unfolding continues apace over at Keaton's where the spooky, saucy 'Ew Ew That Smell' has just been born. Get it while it's fresh! Oh, good, the all-words copy is the best. Mostly the case with copies of everything, weirdly. If I was in LA, I would ping-pong between haunted houses and Taco Bells. I would. In your honor. Well, in mine too, I guess. ** Misanthrope, Hi, G. Was I? Are you? Nice going on the Pad Thai, even with shrimp, eeeuw. Yeah, I think I've gotten those red dot things. I think they just go away one day. I've never looked into them. They're just like weird benign Satanic visitors. ** Cal Graves, Hi, Cal. My hoodoo producing aspect is mightily proud. Oh my God, Orson Scott Card is such a dick. I've never read him though. I'm sure I must have seen movies based on his things. Your novel sounds really good. I like everything about it. That 'much more than meets the eye' thing is tough, but, I don't know, I think maybe it's mostly about editing. Like you initially write everything that's going on, and then you edit out the stuff you want to be mysterious and more hidden, and the resonance from that stuff ends up still being there in the novel hinting away in the parts you've left in place, if that makes any sense. My weekend was all right. No great shakes. Yes, Iceland, amazing, right? We (Zac and me) are going to drive all over, which means around the island's circumference, just looking at and exploring as much as we can for 11 days. You buy these tour-type things where they give you a 4 wheel drive car, and they make hotel reservations for you, and then you just do whatever you want every day and aim for the hotel you're staying in that particular night. We're going to, like, explore ice cubes and go snowmobiling and hike and see volcanoes and the Northern Lights and all kinds of as-yet-unknown stuff. Should be crazy great. Sincerely, me. ** Craig, Hi, Craig. Well, France, like all of Europe basically, is really, really into soccer. That's the really big deal sport here. And rugby has become quite popular here in the last five or six years. Those are the biggies. And of course bicycling 'cos of the Tour de France. And they do really like tennis too. Oh, don't sweat it about my past. It'll all kind of leak out over time. That inexpensive movie theater sounds really convenient, yeah. Mm, I just saw a bad movie that I told Kier about. I haven't been going to the theater and seeing new movies as much lately just 'cos I've been so busy. I mostly look at older stuff online, I guess, like the films of the guy I'm spotlighting today, for instance. Awesome that you have your place! That makes such a difference, right? And the Xmas Eve hosting event sounds really fun. I hope you'll take pix when the time comes. A Buche! Great idea! Oh, hm, I'll have to think about touches you could add, hm. Luckily we have some time. Hm, interesting. I'm doing good, and I hope you are too! ** Rewritedept, Hi. My weekend was okay. That was a good word for it. Your project involving murdered boy portraits sounds very interesting, no surprise. I used to collect them, and I guess there's actually a lot of them in that 'Gone' book. Novels move slowly, that's for sure. I hope your Monday rules too! ** Okay. Today I'm spotlighting the films of Jon Jost who has to be one of the most under-known great American filmmakers of our time. His 'Sure Fire' is one of my all-time favorite films. Anyway, I hope it's of interest. See you tomorrow.